Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Long Walk

I actually started writing this almost 2 weeks ago.  But with Cheyenne Frontier Days, my time to do anything but be an honorary carny was limited, so it's been sitting (unfinished) during that time.  Should this bare any resemblance to Pastor Jeff's sermon Sunday (which was amazing btw), it's not wholly intentional.  Of course God often speaks to my heart through our Sunday morning teaching so there will be some that is gleaned from Sunday's sermon.  But, being that we serve the same God and this is something He has been moving Element towards, it makes sense that He would be speaking the same stuff to different people's hearts.  
~Ftr, this happens a lot~

This was originally meant to be Part 3 of "Who Needs 'Revival'?", but it took a different turn, so it's not.  Part 3 will come in a couple days... In the mean time, read this.

I have a friend that recently texted me something that caught me.  The topic of his text was ultimately the importance of testimony, but he started it out by saying that so many new Christians lack hope and asked how we can best address this issue.  Then he said, "many younger (not age, spiritual maturity) Christians have not taken the challenge to trust in God and lean on Him so that they could have the honor of seeing God move in their lives."  I don't pretend to have the answers, but I do know if you seek God, He will show Himself to you.  The Holy Spirit draws hearts unto the Father and needs nothing from us.  

But there is still that one thing.  There is still the tiny issue of the commission that Jesus issued to all of us.  He said we would be His witnesses to the world (Acts 1:8) and commissioned us (or gave us the authority to) make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19).  Pastor Jeff delivered an amazing message on discipleship and what it means to follow Jesus (check it out HERE).  One of the closing points he made was that once we fully surrender all of us to Jesus, and WILLINGLY take up our cross, Jesus carries it with us.  He walks beside us.  In our surrender we get ALL of Him.  All of His strength. All of His victory. All of His purity.  All of His love... All of Him!  This is the amazing truth of Christ.  So knowing that truth, how do we address the concern of the "many younger Christians that have not taken the challenge to trust in God and lean on Him so that they could have the honor of seeing God move in their lives"?  

That's where the great commission comes in.  Once someones spirit is awoken to the truth of Jesus' love, they begin a walk.  It's important to remember that just because someone feels the Holy Spirit's drawing and responds to it, doesn't mean they get or understand the decision they've made.  This is where discipleship becomes vital.  At first the walk seems lonely.  And it is.  It's long too.  This is the way I've seen (and experienced personally) the new Christian walk happen.  First, you make the decision to follow Jesus and everything starts out amazing.  You're swept up by this idea that the living God loves YOU.  Despite all the wrong you've done, you're loved and accepted.  You feel peace for the first time in... who knows when.  You're reading your bible and talking to people about God and out of nowhere the things you used to do BC (Before Christ) become significantly unsatisfying.  You start feeling like Jesus wants you to give stuff up.  Maybe a bad relationship or a habit.  At first you thing it's for the better, but eventually it becomes harder and harder and more painful to let go of it and you can't understand why you "just can't let it go".  Eventually the "Jesus thing" just become too hard and it just fades out of your life.  You allow the BC stuff seep back in and they choke out those early "feelings".  You don't see Jesus "work" for you, so it must not be for you.  It wasn't as easy as you thought it would be, so you return to what you know.  That's how it happened for me so many time.

I so desperately wish that the church would get into the habit of telling new Christ followers this,

"The decision you've made to follow Christ is the best one you'll EVER make, IN YOUR LIFE!  It's amazing, but it's hard, especially at first.  It does get easier as you learn to obey Him, but He told us that we'll experience trials and we do.  So this next season of your life is going to be hard.  He's going to ask you to give up stuff and ask you to take on some stuff.  He's going to completely change your heart and the very core of who you are.  It's going to hurt because you have to die to be reborn.  It will suck a lot; there's no telling how long that season will be and realistically, He changes you continually, forever until you're made perfect.  But for all that initial pain.  Through all the first parts of tearing the bad away to replace it with His good, it's worth it.  Because NONE of the pain that comes with Him changing you can ever compare to the love that you feel when He's close to you.  If you faithfully commit yourself to Him, He'll be faithful to you.  He takes all the junk from you that keeps you from experience Life and this is what you get: Love, Truth, Victory, Glory, Righteousness and so much more.  And you know what?  I've been there and I will walk with you in this season, until you experience the majesty of the Lord and KNOW it's real.  And I'll do that because I know it's hard.  Then when you've experienced His glory, I'll walk with you just to keep you company and we can sharpen each other."

Because of His love, Jesus can't leave you unchanged.  He wants better for you.  We are meant to look like Him.  The truth is that He commissioned us to make disciples, because we are disciples.  As disciples we are meant to embrace and assists in spreading the teachings of Jesus.  For all the places that Paul brought the Good News, he never simply taught about Jesus and left them to their own journey.  He would disciple someone, (Timothy, Titus) building them up in their faith and leave them there to disciple others.  Then, even if just through letters, he remained in a giving relationship with them.

How do we address the issue of the many young Christ followers that have not yet taken the challenge to trust in God and lean on Him so that they can have the honor of seeing Him move in their lives?  We lead them, journey with them, teach them, share our testimony with them, encourage them, cheer them, weep with them and love them.  We do that  until they get to that place where they can look back and see the string of victories given them by Jesus., until they have seen and recognize His glory and  until they have experienced His undeniable faithfulness.