Faithful discipleship and not going through the motions

It’s one of those cliches that Christians fall into, “God gave us the best in Jesus, we should give Him our best.” OK, you can’t argue with that, but it’s that sort of platitude that gets “ya-ya’d” and then pretty much left as a platitude. To be sure God has given us His best, He continues to do so and not only that is looking for our faithfulness, our growth, our trust in Him and our honest attempts to serve Him. I get it, that is not always going to be our “best”. No doubt, when we are doing things that are new, things that God is pushing us into, that are intimidating, that make us challenge our boundaries we are going to shrink back a little. To be sure, we’re not always going to produce our best, but what God wants is for us to rely on the faith that He’s given us in order to push us to do the things that He wants us to grow in. Anytime, there’s something new, something that is kind of towering over you, it does kind of freeze you up. So that’s the point, that’s what God is doing with so many in the Bible, making them go beyond what they thought they were capable of.

God gave us His best, Jesus picked up from the glory of Heaven, His place in the Godhead next to God the Father. He became a man in order to live the perfect life and therefore the spotless sacrifice, payment for all of our sins and restore the relationship in salvation with God the Father. As the Blackabys point out: “…He reliinquished the glory of His heavenly existence in order to become a man. He was born n a cattle shed; he slept in a feeding trough. His life was spent preparing for the day when He would suffer an excruciating execution…” (Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day p 362) Jesus was He who all creation came into being and yet He is in a shed, in a humble place in Israel, which is itself a humble backwater to the rest of the world.

So having said all that, and realizing that we aren’t going to be “all that and a bag of chips”, but it seems that when we are pushed, we don’t even think about excellence, we think that we throw some crumbs, go through the motions and then we should be good with God. We need God to be great, perfect, Holy, almighty, sovereign Lord, we will never come close to being even a speck to the God who has created all and that’s good, we have a God that is Lord of all. Having said that and understanding that He does understand that we can never be anywhere near enough, that we have human limitations, we still expect that He’s supposed to lower His standards to ours. I get that a lot as a pastor, talk to me on my level, heck the church has been doing that since you and I were in Sunday school. It’s really not an attempt to help people to grow, to push themselves to new levels of Christian maturity, it’s the same old story. Pat us on the head, make everything nice and easy and everyone will be happy. We want God to come down to our level, but we still want Him to do all the great, magnificent things when we want them.

OK, God comes down to our level, but what does that even mean? Whose level of mediocrity should He lower Himself to, mine? Yours? The take-away is this. God sets the standard that we should all strive for and we should strive for God’s best. That’s not what saves us, we are saved simply and solely through Jesus who died as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. We cannot earn our way into salvation, nothing we will ever do will ever be enough to save us in our sin. Jesus is the only One who could save us and is all there is, nothing we could ever come close to.

But instead of always offering our mediocre efforts, our gifts of crumbs and indifference, expecting that it should be “our way”, as if God is going to do billions of people individual ways. Instead let’s really trust in God’s leading, if He’s pushing you to trust more, to do something that seems out of your reach, to learn and to lead beyond what you think you can, then trust His leading. We have to get out of our mediocre, hum-drum ruts that’s so typical of the world and really strive for what the Holy Spirit is pushing us to. Are there new groups at church to help you learn and apply what you learn and are led to do? Are there ministries that are crying out to be established? Are there people, maybe even just one who could use attention, guidance, mentoring?

Our church service is not in terms of some pompous, “ya, always the best rah-rah”. It’s I’m here to be led to where the Holy Spirit is moving me, it’s not always going to be the best, the most successful, the most effective. It’s going to be in terms of the faithfulness that He gives us and lose the attitude of just going through the motions, throwing some crumbs and then moving on to “fun”. Ya, which is usually being a slug, that it’s all about you and don’t make me really make an effort. God gives us the faith, the talent, the ability, and when needed lifts us up past our ability and helps us to achieve to His glory. Let’s glorify God, focus on His will and not our weaknesses, get out of our mediocre ruts and really know His will and what He can do through us and then do it as well as we can.

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