Don’t give me credit for the following insight. The main idea I heard for the first time last month, in a preparatory meeting for the Eleuthera Mission Trip. It was insightful to me, and I wanted to share it with you.
How many of you can recite the “Great Commission”? Most of you, I’m sure, know it from Matthew 28:18-20:
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
A few things to point out (things I’ve learned over the last 19 years or so):
There is one thing that friends commonly tell us that grates on me a little. They don’t mean it in a bad way, and I need to receive their words with love and graciousness. But when they say it, I try to put a slightly different slant on it.
What they say goes something like this:
“It is amazing what your family has done, moving to Allendale.”
“You guys have shown great faith by giving up what you had in Greenville.”
I have a choice to make: I can either keep this brief, or I can stay on my soapbox for at least 1500 words.
I’ll choose the former. For now.
So, here are 2 things that have been bugging me recently on the interwebs. I won’t point out specific examples, but if you’ve seen these happen, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
My final season playing football for Furman University started out well, with three wins, and our only loss was a respectable game against a much bigger Clemson program. But a series of decimating injuries (by the end of the season, 9 of our 11 defensive starters were freshmen) led to 4 losses in the next 5 games. Needless to say, it was heart-breaking, especially for a perfectionist like me.
So, that last week, on Monday afternoon, I was walking down the hallway of our athletic facility, heading to the weight room for my next-to-last workout of my career. (We lifted weights on Mondays and Wednesdays during the season.)
I thought, “Is there any reason to work out hard in the weight room? What’s the point? Even if we do win, we’ll still have a losing record. And since I am a back-up, I’m not a major contributor to the team’s success. Will it really make a difference if I work out hard? What difference will it make if I just slack off?”
As soon as I stopped asking these questions, I heard a voice in my head as clear as can be. It said:
This is a simple diagram, but it summarizes everything you need to know about balancing your time.
- UP: Time spent focusing on God
- IN: Time spent focusing on others in the body of Christ
- OUT: Time spent focusing on those who don’t know Jesus yet
Jesus modeled this balance, and we should live it out in our families, churches, small groups, etc, so that we can have a true culture of disicpleship.
Take out one of these areas, and we’re left with social activism, event Christianity, or secteric closed systems. Focus on one area too much, and we are even further from discipleship.
Where do you need more focus — UP, IN, or OUT?
Here are just a few verses:
For the needy will not always be forgotten,
Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.
O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear
To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed,
So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.
How blessed is he who considers the helpless;
The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.
The Lord will protect him and keep him alive,
And he shall be called blessed upon the earth;
And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies.
Give the king Your judgments, O God,
And Your righteousness to the king’s son.
May he judge Your people with righteousness
And Your afflicted with justice.
Let the mountains bring peace to the people,
And the hills, in righteousness.
May he vindicate the afflicted of the people,
Save the children of the needy
And crush the oppressor.
He raises the poor from the dust
And lifts the needy from the ash heap,
To make them sit with princes,
With the princes of His people.
How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Who executes justice for the oppressed;
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free.
The Lord protects the strangers;
He supports the fatherless and the widow,
But He thwarts the way of the wicked.
The LORD has a heart for those who need help. Shouldn’t we?
- James 1: Grace, Truth, Action
- Proverbs and Poverty and Justice
- I Am Suffering from a Depraved Indifference
- Living the Gospel Requires More Than Good Intentions and Random Acts of Kindness
- Crazy Love: Your Best Life
- Jeremiah’s Choice
- Just a Vapor
**image courtesy of winjohn via sxc.hu
I read a quote from John Perkins several week ago and I just can’t get it out of my head.
“Living the gospel means desiring for your neighbor and your neighbor’s family that which you desire for yourself and your family.”
Lets be real. I don’t meet that standard very often – but I am struggling to work out what it looks life in my life. Working for World Orphans in developing countries and my experience as a teacher and coach in South Carolina public schools has brought me face to face with children who are suffering the effects of generational poverty and institutional injustice.
You would have to be pretty cold and calloused to work in these environments and not feel compassion for these children. But after the compassion and sadness comes then what do you do? Do you walk away sad? Do you blame it on the lack of character of “those people”?