My heart is heavy for a mission field that doesn’t exist in a third world country, or on the streets downtown. My heart is burdened for the people within the walls of the Christian church. People who are going through the motions without understanding the deep joy and freedom that comes from handing over our lives to God. People who’s lights have grown dim and are just waiting to be ignited. I keep hearing stats on how many youth are leaving the church, and how many people are disgusted by the state of our church as whole. I hear words like “hypocrites”, and “judgemental” and people saying that those in the church are buzz-kills who only want to win over converts. It hurts my heart deeply to hear that this is the reputation that Christians have. But what I truly feel in my heart is that we take action on our lives, re-igniting burnt out flames and finding a deeper relationship with the God whose only goal is to have an intimate relationship with YOU then we will become unstoppable warriors fighting for God’s kingdom.
Jesus tells us that there two commands: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. Matthew 12:30-31.
I find myself being drawn to things outside of church. It’s far easier to stay up watching a movie then it is to pull out my bible read before bed. It feels better to seek revenge than to offer forgiveness, and hanging out in my pjs all day Sunday instead of getting up heading off to church is more enticing to me all too often. And why are we drawn to these things? Simple. They feel good. In a culture that tells us to do what feels good, it’s far to easy to do just that. And after a while of doing what initially felt good, a piece of my body hungers for more. There’s a emptiness that creeps into my soul that needs feeding. This emptiness has spawned from my own doing. I have neglected the first command to love God and have chosen a fake substitute that initially felt better, but that over time has corroded my heart. Loving God isn’t about going through the motions of “being Christian”, but it is a deep relationship that I must actively work hard at. But, when I do it satisfies my soul in a way that nothing else does. My heart yearns for God’s nearness, without it I am just a dead shell. And yet, how many of us have felt like dead shell for at least a season, if not more, in our lives?
A year ago I spent a lot of time in prayer asking for God to show me the things that keep pulling me away from him. Things that distract from the first command. I found six themes that kept coming up that I know that I have a hard time with. Beside each point I had written down a little side note, but a few were left blank. I had shut my book initially thinking that I missed it, until a phone call from Dovette. She filled me in on what was in her heart and it all matched the missing points that I couldn’t fill. Isn’t God great?!
Over the next month or so, we are going to pray over and write on our experiences with these sneaky ways that the enemy has used to pull us out of our relationship and cause us to slip in the first command given. These ways include: unforgiveness, unworthiness, anger, pride/ reputation, complacency, and fear/ worry.
I have realized that if I am to fulfill the second command to love my neighbour, I need to take stock of my own heart. I will never be perfect. But, if I am obedient to God’s command I can be filled with his Spirit. If I can be filled with his Spirit, I will desire to be near to him. My life will not be a series of actions that are done out of obligation, but a sequence of events that will bring about glory to Him and satisfy my heart on the deepest level.
Maybe you’ve never given God much thought outside of the fact that you think he may exists. Or, maybe, like me, you’ve grown up in the church and done all things “Christianese” your whole life, but you wonder if there’s more than what you’ve been passed on in your walk by default from family members. Or maybe, you have a deep Sprirt filled-life, but have that one weak spot, as we all do, that keeps pulling you down. Our hope is that by speaking on your brokeness, emptiness and complacent hearts that we will encourage you to take stock of your own heart. The first command is to love God, and we pray that what we share will take your relationship deeper so you can see just how much he wants to be with you no matter you’ve done, what you’ve felt or what you’ve said. Honest, he does, no matter what your past of present consists of! And, after our hearts are on fire with a love so deep, you will be radiating his Spirit and like a magnet, people will be drawn to that thing that’s shining from you. That thing that maybe they can’t quite put their finger on, but that thing- God’s outpouring of love on you- will allow you to fulfill the second command to love your neighbour. And with that much love you won’t be able to help yourself! I get excited just thinking about what God has in store if each of you. How much more your hearts can be on fire for him! Do me a favor, click on the song belong and do a little dance, or a big one, and throw a few fist punches in the air for God! Know that if you give him just a little bit of yourself at a time, or the whole meal deal all at once he will help you to grow. He already loves you so much, now it’s your turn to respond.
We thank you for Sarah’s insight. We thank you for your written word that we have as guidance to navigate murky waters. We pray that you will use each message on unforgiveness, unworthiness, anger, pride/ reputation, complacency, and fear/ worry to honor your name. We pray that we are your hands and feet and that as each message gets posted, that it reaches the person or people it is meant for. Thank you Father God, for your help as we venture out into unknown territory. Apart from you, we can do nothing.
In Jesus Name, Amen.