obeying the still voice
And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. - 1 Kings 19:12
Patience, obedience and conviction are not qualities I tend to pride myself on. Sure I try to be as obedient to my parents as I possibly can. I tend to be fairly patient when it comes to things like food, grades and text message responses. However, I know for a fact that accepting criticism and conviction are not my strong suit. Over the past few months, the Lord has been growing each of these areas. He has provided endless opportunities to be patient in so many situations, but more so than that, He has been convicting me in obedience. What a combination, right?
Two weeks ago I started reading a book called Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity by Jen Hatmaker. I have been obsessing over this book for the past two weeks. It took me three-and-a-half months to read 47 pages of The Comeback by Louie Giglio, and in two weeks I have read 163 out of 240 pages of this book. It’s that stinkin captivating and exactly what I needed. The book was given to me by a friend before I went to Nepal last August, and she suggested that I read it while I was on the 16 hour flight with nothing to do. Of course, I didn’t even crack it open. I was too enthralled with the endless movie choices and season 7 of Parks and Recreation to bother reading on a flight where I could literally do almost nothing. How wise was that?
As always, God has a way of working things out and with perfect timing. Since I had given away the only book I was semi-interested in reading, I decided that I should at least start reading a new book. So I settled with this one by Hatmaker, and boy has it changed my perspective. If you need a book to read, please go buy this one.
I won’t spoil too much of it for you, but the book confronts our current Christian culture in America. We live in a Christian culture that is detached, uninteresting, uninspiring and unappealing to the world around it. Church attendance is declining rapidly. More college age people are leaving the church than ever before. This is simply due to the fact that American Christian culture is completely missing the point. That’s what this book addresses, and I know that I have been missing the point for a while now too.
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45 Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” - Matthew 25:31-46
I truly dedicated my life to Christ and His mission when I was a sophomore in high school. Ever since that moment, my life has looked extremely different from before. My mind functions differently, my actions are different and the way I treat others is different. However, since that moment during sophomore year of high school, I don’t know that my heart has truly understood what Christ’s mission was about and what He is truly calling us to until the past year or so.
What I failed to grasp was that His call on our lives to take the gospel to all people and all nations is not simply when we decide to go to Haiti or Nepal for a week. We aren't supposed to simply sing a few songs of worship to our creator for 20 minutes on a Sunday morning and Wednesday night. We don’t need to drown ourselves in endless bible studies that seem to stumble over the same content as the ten we were involved inbefore. We don't need to continue pouring into vessels that are already weary of hearing the same sugar-coated words of teachers that are seemingly bored with God breathed scriptures. What we must realize is that there is a broken, disgusting, dirty, cruel, harsh, ugly, destitute world that desperately needs a Savior. And we have been enlisted to take what we have been told and show that to the world. We have been enlisted to show the world who our Savior is.
I understand that we go on mission trips to bring our Savior to the world. I understand that there are local ministry partners that work to reach people in need. I get that we are busy humans that have roles and responsibilities in our areas of life. But what would our world look like if each follower of Jesus realized that the homeless person we pass on the road every single day is actual the image of the same man that taught parables to crowds and raised people from the dead? What would our world look like if we actually cared enough to talk to the person that is sitting by themselves in the dining hall because they have walked through things none of us should ever have to walk through and they don’t feel comfortable enough to initiate conversation with another person?
God calls us to reach all people. By all people He means ALL people. The people in Nicaragua. The people in Haiti. The people in Nepal. The people in Syria. The people in Greece. The people in Germany. The people in Texas. The people in New York. The people in Atlanta. The people in Kennesaw, Georgia. All people.
I’m not contending that we go and shove the Gospel down everybody’s throat. That’s already been done, and clearly it’s not effective in showing people how much Christ loves them. But what we can do is be obedient and model Christ and how He lived in His 33 years on earth. We can help those in need. We are all in need in some form or fashion. We can actually start DOING something instead of talking about how cool it would be if someone would do something. Be that someone! I’m telling myself this right now!
It’s hard. You will be judged. You will get weird looks. People will ask you why you’re doing what you’re doing. And that is the most beautiful thing about it. People will take notice of what the Lord is doing through you. People take notice when you are being obedient because it is so uncommon that they are thrown off by it. That is how He is spread to all people. Instead of talking about Christ’s love for others, why don’t we show people Christ’s love for them? After all, we do have the Holy Spirit inside of us and that’s really all we need. We don’t need fancy words. We don’t need a compelling argument, nor a “turn or burn” mentality. Just genuine, real, authentic love and interest. I pray that we would rise as a nation and show the love of Christ to all. Let’s get out of this comfortable position of passivity and start living the lives we’ve been called to. Listen for His soft and still voice. Furthermore, obey it. He will never steer you wrong.