Thursday, March 25, 2010

Radical obedience, Part IX

3:52 p.m. Today's project is to willingly live "under the microscope." Yesterday's post concerned people you have just met, whose only information is the inital impression we give them. The Lord was gracious yesterday evening to allow me to minister to a young woman who was crying her eyes out on my street corner--the site of the sudden death of her good friend Matt. He had ridden his motorcycle up the Canyon Crest hill when a driver pulled out from in front of my house, turned left, hit and killed him! It was two days later, and his friends had set up a makeshift shrine with candles and a large cross in his memory. Lots of messages had been written on the sidewalk as well.

In obedience to this divine appointment, I went to her, introduced myself and Steve who stood nearby. I listened to her tell about Matt, and shared about Christ making eternal life possible for her, and prayed comfort for her while holding her in my arms. I told her to come over any time to our home, and her friends and parents also--she and the deceased had gone to King High School with our kids. I really can't be sure how much she took in, being distraught as she was. But I trust the Holy Spirit to bring His words I was led to share to her remembrance, or even better, my love and offer of friendship. But it's His love I offer, for without Him, I can do nothing! We must remember that it is God who does the saving--we just have to be obedient to open our mouths and hearts to those in need of the Savior!

First impressions are critical to witnessing, but the far more difficult witness is living daily life with family, friends, fellow students or colleagues at work! Listen to how Jesus exhorts His followers, and the expectation He has for us from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16:

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on the top of a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Not only are people watching a Christian's behavior, but Jesus purposely sends His people out to be watched publicly every day! We are not to just muddle along, trying not to bother anybody, but to shine for Jesus, attracting others like moths to porch lights. I see no exceptions to my assignment--not bad traffic, bad news, bad health, bad finances, or even the bad behavior of others. We are to be noticeably different in our actions, reactions and interactions, from the nonbelievers around us. Look at I Timothy 6:1, about those who serve in the workplace: "Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine not be blasphemed." And blaspheme they will! Ever notice how savagely any prominent Christian who falls is attacked by the press? (Ever notice how savagely any commonplace Christian who falls is attacked when he or she falls, also?) Titus 2:5 tells us women that we are to be "discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." Who is blasphemed when we disgrace ourselves in front of the unsaved? God and his Word! How we need time in prayer and serious daily searching of scriptures to walk as He would have us walk!

A Christian needs to be pleasant and approachable, because we never know when a frightening or tragic issue will arise in a colleague, friend or family member's life, and we will be needed to counsel, comfort and console. Only Christians have a genuine word of hope, life-giving words, and the ability to see life in perspective to eternity. On more occasions than I can recount, heartbroken family members or friends, or even teachers down the hall, have sought me out for wisdom or a place to "vent," express their crushed spirits and feelings of defeat and failure--or having been abused by others. It's not me they see and are drawn to, it's Jesus in me. It is God who works in me "both to will and to do His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13) Sometimes the working of God in my life and our family's lives is compelling enough to draw others to come to church or to the Harvest Crusade. Some go forward to accept Christ, and others need more time. God knows their time to come to Him!

God spoke to Ezekiel of the change of heart the exiles would have when He returned them to Israel, in Chapter 11:19-20: "I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be My people and I will be their God."

Only God can perform a genuine heart transplant. But in obedience, we can lead our friends and loved ones to the Great Physician!

Part X: Personal obedience--powering past the fear.

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