Note: I apologize for the following content. Its not my place to convict, I simply yearn to share whats been on my heart.
How many of us have yearned to see the next “great” revival? To see hundreds, thousands and even millions come to know Christ? How many times have we cried hoping that our generation would change its ways and honor the Lord? Often we dream these things but how often do we count the cost of making it happen? Are we ready to sacrifice our end of the bargain?
I, luckily, have never had the privilege of giving birth, but from want I hear, the process isn’t at all painless or quick. It’s an incredibly long journey that is only rewarded after months of pain, emotion and struggle. Our ministries are very similar. Realize that we are responsible for bringing new spiritual life into being but it’s going to cost us something in return. When we read Revelations where Christ is criticizing the churches I found a particular quote that hits my heart hard:
To the church of Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Many of us look at successful pastors, worship leaders, mentors and think, “I really wish I could have what they have. You know what? I could really see myself doing what they do.” Then we proceed to get involved and before long we start seeing some sort of fruit from our ministry. Then the inevitable happens. Life happens. Soon our ministry becomes crowded out by relationships, work, education, family obligations, etc. Before long our ministry dwindles down to an effectiveness of nothing.
When we say that we want those things that the godly people we admire do, do we really count the cost? When the disciples James and John said that they wanted to sit on either side of Jesus, did they really know from what cup they were going to drink? Lately I’ve found an upsetting trend in churches among the college age group. Many of them are eager and excited to jump into ministry but soon the “weeds of life” crowd out their opportunities and they end up either getting sucked up into laissez-faire Christianity, or turning back but not after twenty years of their life have gone by. Of course this isn’t always the case but it is starting to become a real pet peeve of mine and one that I’m especially warring with in my own personal life.
Too often our carnal desires get the best of us and steal us away from God’s destiny for our life. Suddenly, in a moment we find our godly selves at war with our animal selves. Are we going to subdue our flesh and choose what is godly or yield to the flesh and reduce ourselves to animals? In the story of Gideon we see a perfect example. When Israel was under attack, God choose Gideon to lead the Israelites to victory. Before God could do this he had to make sure that they would know that He accomplished it. To do this he removed the majority of men from the military service. Now there is an important detail that the bible tells us. Notice how the men were chosen:
The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lestIsraelboast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away fromMountGilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.
And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.
Notice that the three hundred men who God chose took water to their mouth and lapped it up, while the majority knelt down to drink the water. I get two different images from this. One is of a bold warrior using his hands to hold the water and bring it to his face. The other is of an antelope kneeling down to the water to get a drink. In other words I get the image of a small band of warriors who were wholly committed to retaining there godliness and a large amount who acted more like animals. What about the lapping of dogs comment? Certainly using your hands and lapping like a dog is more “human” then kneeling over the water!
What I’m trying to point at is that our earthly desires often try to put themselves where God should be reserved. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have earthly or “animal” desires to do things but that we should put them in their proper places.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Jesus says this after immediately talking about concerns as far as food, clothing, worries, etc. As Christians we are all asked to take part in “ministry,” whether it’s your work place, your school, your church, your family, etc. Let’s realize that this is for the long haul and that we should never give up when it feels tough or when it seems like there are be other things we want to be doing. Jesus has given us his kingdom and as good subjects we should seek to uphold and maintain it. Let’s stop worrying about who we should marry, where we should work or what to major in. If we make God’s kingdom a priority we have to trust that he’ll make a way. I’ll make it my prayer that we do not become “lukewarm” in our obligations to God but that we will become over comers! That we will refresh God’s people with something new being brought into the world.
We want a revival, so lets start counting the costs.
Thoughts and proofreading added by Chris from http://thevagabondcartographer.wordpress.com/