“Are you trying to Christianize your life or crucify it?”
This was a very convicting question at the beginning of a sermon I heard this past Sunday. Freeman and I were attending The Austin Stone Community Church for our last time as regular attenders. This summer we have had a series of pastors come from other churches to teach at the ASCC. This week’s pastor was Todd Ahrend, and he brought it as he preached about the mission of God.
As I mentioned, he opened with a story and a convicting question, but he didn’t stop there. He explained, with scriptural evidence, that God’s mission is to make disciples of all nations, and this mission is expressed from Genesis to Revelation. To hear this sermon in its entirety (which I recommend doing because it is both humorous and convicting, which is hard to achieve, I believe), click here.
I think that the most convicting part of this sermon (well, after the question that attempted to uncover my true motivations behind living a “Christian” life) was actually the illustration that Todd used at the end of his sermon. He explained that when you fall in love with someone, you fall in love with what they love. Freeman, for example, loves Baylor University and everything it stands for, especially football. When we first started dating, this was something that was definitely extremely low on my list of affections. OK, it wasn’t even on the radar of my affections; however, since I love Freeman, I choose to love the things he loves, even if that meant attending and tailgating for games played by (at the time) a losing team. (It seems now some of our efforts have paid off!)
Although I might not feel like I love the nations right now, it is my responsibility to try to because if I love God, I will love what he loves, and he definitely loves the nations. (He also is concerned with receiving the most amount of glory, which he rightfully deserves, and how can he do that if we’re not sharing Him with the nations who have never even heard of Him?)
To top it off, we ended the service with this song. It is one of my favorites by Hillsong, entitled “With Everything.” As I stood up and sang this song, and stretched my hands up to Jesus, symbolizing that I want to give him everything, it really made me think…”Am I really giving everything for God’s glory? Or am I doing enough to look like a Christian on the outside who is actually more concerned with building my own kingdom but gets by as a Christian by doing enough “Christian” things?” Conviction. At its best.
But where can I go from here? Seriously? I know the depravity of my own heart, or at least I’m coming to terms with it more and more every day (by the grace of God), but I am not capable of this change. God is though. So right now, all I can do is pray. Here’s a few of my prayers:
“God, open my eyes to the nations. Help me see past my own little bubble in which I live. Help me LOVE the nations like you do.”
“God, show me how I can sacrifice in my life to give more to the nations of people who have never heard your name.”
“God, use us to reach the nations. If you want us to go, we’ll go. Show us when and where and give us the courage to be obedient.”
“God, help our future children to love the nations. Give them a desire to love people who are not like them and give them a clear purpose in serving the nations.”
If you haven’t ever developed a love for the nations, I encourage you to pray these prayers or ones similar to them. For Freeman and myself, we are excited to come into contact with more people from more nations as we move to NYC. We even bought this book to help direct our prayers and to increase our awareness about the various ethnic groups represented in the city. If you live or have ever lived in the city and are interested in knowing more about the nations represented there, I highly recommend this book, ethNYcity.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”