Friday, June 24, 2011

What are you being asked to do?

The United Methodist Church currently has this big push "to go and make disciples" based on Jesus' commissioning of the disciples in Matthew 28.  They have lots of catchy campaign slogans and this is the foundation and driving force behind "Call to Action" and "Healthy Church Initiative" just to give you a couple of examples.  My personal opinion, I think they put the cart in front of the horse.  They have the right idea but they're coming at it from the wrong direction.

The beauty of Wesley's basic Methodism was that he understood that change comes from within FIRST and when you feel that love of God within you, you are compelled to share it with others.  If the heart is "strangely warmed", if change begins to happen within you, ideas start to flow.  You see and notice things that you didn't pay attention to before and you feel compelled to do something!  I think that's why Wesley emphasized (rightly so) the importance of reading scripture, of praying, fasting and being in fellowship with others who help hold you accountable and keep you moving on the right path.  You don't do mission work simply to do mission work.  You do the work because it truly matters to you!  It is a reflection of what is inside of you.

Some friends from church are currently down in Joplin, Missouri helping out with tornado relief efforts.  Cindy, who is the driving force behind this effort, posted on Face book one day "I'm thinking of going down to Joplin to cook, who wants to come?"  That simple question led to a group of friends getting together to go and help out in any way possible.  This wasn't organized by the church.  It didn't have the backing of some slick ad campaign.  It started from the heart of one person who felt compelled to do something! 

The same thing happened when my friend Sonia came up with the idea of creating a coffee house space at our church for young adults who didn't want to go to Sunday School on Sunday mornings but wanted some place to gather.  Sonia shared her idea with some other folks in her adult Sunday School class and Higher Grounds Coffeehouse was born.  One person, with a God inspired idea, who shared it with others to turn it into a reality because she felt compelled to do something!

I could talk about another friend, Crystal, who, as a young adult, felt that it was important that our church offer Vacation Bible School.  It wasn't really in the budget but she shared the idea with others and created a wonderful VBS experience for children on half a shoestring!  Crystal has also taken over as youth group leader as well because she wanted the youth to experience the same positive atmosphere that she did as a teenager!  There are a lot of other things she could be doing but she feels compelled to act and lead!

Great, God inspired ideas, do not come from committee or because they are on some arbitrary checklist.  They come from within, from the heart, from a compelling need to do something for others.  And a changed heart comes from following in Christ's footsteps.  You learn by reading scripture and meditating on what it is saying to you personally.  That leads to the prayer "God, what are you asking me to do?"  That's the point that I am at right now in my spiritual walk.  My guess is that some of you reading this are at that point as well.  I don't have an answer yet but I have hope that I will soon!  Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

Maybe God has already given you a plan or idea but you haven't acted on it because you don't think the church will back the idea.  Do it anyway!  If you feel compelled because your heart is telling you it's the right thing to do then do it!  If it's a God idea it's gonna go regardless of what others say or think!  If you feel strongly about volunteering at the battered women's shelter or starting a prison ministry or delivering for meals on wheels than do it!  Change comes because compassionate people act.  People are compassionate not because it looks good, it is because they have a heart for compassion. 

What is God asking you to do?  Study, pray, discern, act.  And God be with you!

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