Monday, May 4, 2009

What Is My Calling in This Life?

Beginning the first part of his series, "The Call", Johnson Bowie at opens with "Becoming".

Two of the most awkward periods of time in our life is 1) Trying to pick our major in college and 2) Trying to pick a long term career. "If I choose the wrong major, I will be the 14th year senior." It can really mess us up if we don't make the right decision. Right? What in the world are we supposed to do with our life, especially if we want our lives to count for something? If we can figure out what our calling is, it could make a huge difference.

"I walked 30 miles in those shoes..." For Johnson, becoming a speaker at Fusion didn't happen over night. It happened over time. But he asks us to wake up to a bigger calling than our jobs. "This is a calling that no uncertainty is attached to." God has a calling for each of us that is very clear. It's not boring. Our call is huge and exciting!

Jesus had just risen from the dead and he gathered his disciples together on a mountain top. He tells them in Matthew 28 that all authority in Heaven has been given to Him and with that authority, He charges each one of us to go out into the world and make disciples of men.

"These days, it isn't the Great Commission to us, it's our Great Omission." We say we don't have money or we say we don't have time. We say we don't want to convert people. In Matthew, Jesus didn't say, "Super Christians, Go!! Missionaries, Go!! Pastors, Go!! People who are out of debt, Go!! People who are out of college, Go!!....No, there were no qualifiers." Jesus just said "Go". Nor did Jesus say to convince people to put a fish on their car or a cross around their neck. No, Jesus just said to make disciples of men.

As a child, Johnson remembers things like people being brought to the front of the church and it being announced that they were going to fulfill the "Great Commission" by becoming missionaries in China. It was like the rest of the congregation could not fulfill the commission, so they had to pay these people to do it for them. Those memories incorrectly taught Johnson that this commission was reserved for "those" people.

"It's very simple." If we would go to the source of life, the Word, we would learn our call. But we can't make disciples if we, ourselves, aren't disciples of the Living God. It doesn't work like that. Becoming a disciple isn't easy. We're used to Jesus saying happy things, but He didn't always say those things. Our #1 calling is to be disciples making disciples.

In Biblical times, Stephen and Paul didn't constantly ask what they should do, it just happened. They were carpenters who became disciples, who then went to make other disciples of Jesus. But somewhere in this thing, it became about us. Yet we were called to glorify God, not ourselves. Remove whatever excuses or doubts we have and put God first. All we have to do is become a disciple of Jesus who then makes other disciples. This is the ONE calling for us wherever we are.

What is a disciple and how can we become one? Do we really want to be one? You know, the word "disciple" has these horrible connotations, right? A "disciple" probably enters scripture memorization contests. He probably goes to "fasting parties" and reads scriptures. Also, he probably takes vacations so he can pray. Isn't this what we think?

But in the time of Christ, being a disciple was a huge honor that few had the opportunity to have. In Luke 6:40 it says, "Everyone who is fully trained will be just like his teacher". These disciples would follow around a rabbi, like a "disciple posse". 24/7, the disciples were there with the rabbi. What's interesting is that, when someone wanted to bless a disciple, they would say, "May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi." Remember when Peter walked on water? He went on the water because he wanted to be like Jesus. He wanted to do what he did and experience what Jesus experienced.

So, the evaluation we have to do is, "Who do we look like?" Who are we following or who are we seeking to become? Why is it that we follow society and begin to accept things of society like abortion or ignoring the homeless guy? This has to be a reality check. At the end of the day, if we add up all our hours of who is discipling us, we find that Jesus is not who we follow. Add up the number of hours we watch TV, screw around on the Internet, enter Facebook or talk on the phone! Who are our teachers? How often do we read scripture? Maybe today, something needs to change.

Jesus wasn't like any other teacher. We can't just "copy" the perception of Jesus. We can't just try to look like Jesus. God isn't concerned about the outside, He is concerned about the inside and what is happening with our heart. Who is our teacher? Lots of us feel like liars and hypocrites. But it doesn't end here. We START this thing by faith, but then we make the decision to be disciple.

Being a disciple really boils down to one word, "Death". Many of us might balk at this because it's about waking up every single morning and dying to who we are. Jesus' thoughts are not ours and His ways are not ours. We die every single day. 2 Corinthians 5:14 says, "Christ's love compels us." Because Christ died for us, we die for him. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily..."

We might feel like the bar is being set too high as a disciple. Believing in Him is one thing, right? Jesus isn't interested in numbers; He's interested in disciples. We've fallen into this "consumer Christianity" thing. We go to church and wait to be entertained. We show up for the sex talk at church, but skip out on the services on grace, right? The call of God is not to go to a church service for our self gratification. "I think that should be on the billboard, 'Come to Victory World Church and Die.'" Jesus is not interested in the number of people who just hear. He wants to see disciples who die to themselves.

Johnson reads "The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases and songs he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, but he renounces nothing and he will not reconstruct his life and he will not be what he admires and he will not let his life express what it is that he supposedly admires."

We look at a church and we see people who are followers and admirers. We see people who love Jesus, but they continue life without change. "If you don't pick up your cross every day, you are not worthy to be called my disciple." Do we listen to all the words of Christ or just some of the words? We've bought into carrying this little bitty cross (the one around our neck). We "hang out" with Jesus in that sense. But for those in Christ's time, for those who had actually witnessed a crucifixion, this was a huge commitment. It was fearful!

"You can't hide the giant cross like the little cross." (Though this is an audio of Johnson, you can hear a funny presentation by him, obviously carrying around a big cross on the stage and illustrating how the cross is there when we are tempted.) Dying to ourselves every day is discipleship.

"Love is the birthplace of death and death is the birthplace of discipleship"

The only way we can truly follow ourselves is if we die to our own desires every day. It is a conscious choice. Only we can know what wars against us. If we say we are "strong" in our relationship with Jesus, then we are not in a relationship. We think we have self control, but many of us are one night from backsliding. That is how important it is to make the daily decision!

What about lust? How do we die to that? It's not easy, but it requires picking up the cross every day. The other day, Johnson was in the store buying a Coke, minding his own business when he looked over and saw someone was attractive and who caught his attention. Immediately, he had to die to it. Carrying the cross is not easy. How about pride? If you're always the first person in line, something has to change. If you are always comparing yourself to others, something has to change. We have to honor and value others before ourselves. What about tithing? We have to die to the love of money. What are we giving our heart to? What about drugs? Drinking or cigarettes are forms of putting substance before God.

What about reading the Bible? 2 Timothy 2:15 talks about "correctly handling the Word of Truth". If the Word of God isn't in us, we are warned that we will get blown away by every doctrine. We have to be rooted and grounded in the gospel or there is simply nothing in us to share. What about not praying? This is also what God calls us to do. Prayer isn't boring because God wants to get to know us. What about isolation? What if we are not in community?

John Wesley, in the 1700's listed reasons why his community group, called "the Enthusiasts", met:

1) Because we are ignorant and shortsighted and often unable to discern things that are excellent. But God reveals to one what is good for another so that in a multitude of counselors there is wisdom.

2) Because we are lovers of ourselves and we're unwilling to see our own errors and therefore unlikely to fix them whereas our friends will, with a meek and impartial spirit show us our faults.

3) Because we are weak and irresolute and let go of our integrity upon any opposition but a band of friends that are like-minded inspire us with courage and confidence.

4) Because we are lukewarm in religious duties but a holy fellowship will kindle and keep alive a holy fire.

"Please do not fool yourself in to thinking that you can truly be a disciple of Christ if you are not in a Community Group." We need accountability or the clock is just ticking and we will never see it coming. If we want to die to ourselves, we need to surround ourselves with others who are doing the same, right? We need someone who can call us up and say, "Hey dude, are you dead?" "As one man sharpens another, iron sharpens iron."

What about low self esteem? If we hate ourselves, we need to grab on to what God says about us. We have to know that God loves us. We have to know that God smiles when He thinks about us. What about unforgiveness in our hearts? Not to be insensitive about things that have happened, but if our life is about being like Christ. He died for the people who crucified Him. He asked, "Father forgive them." We have to be willing to die for the people who hurt us, abuse us, use us or betray us. We have to die to the ball and chain of unforgiveness.

Instead of asking ourselves whether we believe or not, we have to ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to answer the high calling of Christ. This is where it starts. Will we die?

No comments:

Post a Comment

All posts/questions/comments/links encouraged and welcome!