What do we do with our Life? What are we here for?

Monday night at Canvas Group we talked about what it means to be an 'American Christian.' Andrew, Melissa, Amanda, and Chris all shared different ideas that the Lord was pressing on them.

One of the things that stirred in my heart, and has been for a while, is the need for Christians to help face some of the most devastating issues of our world. Poverty. Homelessness. Malnutrition. While we live in comfort in the US, millions of children, women, and men die daily of basic needs like food, clean water, and shelter. We as Americans are shielded by the realities of these issues. It is something that is completely foreign to us.

And so the question raises in my mind constantly, why do we not help? Or maybe why do we not help more? Yes we are Americans and we live in this country, yet we are Christians first before our American pride. We should be helping our brothers and sisters whether they are American, Honduran, Chinese, African, or Indian. God's love has no boundaries, so why should we have any between pieces of land?

Melissa shared a sermon written/spoken by John Piper. I think it beautifully describes the needs and our abilities to help. It beautifully describes my desire to go to Honduras so badly and to make the reality of their lives- poverty, homelessness, malnutrition- a reality of my life.

*I highlighted in blue all the things that really spoke to me.

God: Refuge for His People, Exalted Among the Nations

By John Piper November 10, 1991

Psalm 46

Almost everywhere Jesus went, crowds gathered to hear him or to receive his touch. And when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. On one of these occasions he turned and said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:36–37).

A Great Harvest of Hurting Sheep

One of the remarkable facts of our time is the massive migration of people—like sheep without a shepherd—into the larger cities all over the world. They come trying to find a better life. North Africans to Paris, Vietnamese to Hong Kong, Salvadoreans to Los Angeles. Refugees from wars, victims of racism, rural poverty, or natural disasters. Sometimes political exiles and sometimes just exiles from hope—trying to escape disease, famine, violence, poverty, loneliness.

Combine this with the ever-growing throng of children (the lambs without a shepherd)—orphans, runaways, throwaways, impoverished—many of them victimized by thriving child pornography and prostitution rackets.

Then add the reality that for most of them (the sheep and the lambs) the city doesn't bring hope, but rather homelessness, crime, alcoholism, drug addiction, unemployment, and miseries beyond description.

Add to this the fact that not all the harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd come to the cities, but live in millions of rural villages where there is no witness to Christ.

These realities pose a very serious question for us who sit here in comfort surrounded by technological benefits (lighting, heat, refrigeration, transportation, medicine, schools, radio and television, literature, computers, food, sports). The question is this: What is life for in this age before Jesus comes? What should we do with our lives? Does the misery and lostness of most of the world mean that we can just go on our way with goals for comfort and security? Do we look upon the misery of the nations with disgust and blame, or do we see them as Jesus did, like sheep without a shepherd, and say, "The harvest is great but the laborers are few"?

An Age of Misery and Lostness

In Afghanistan the life expectancy of men is 36 years. In Guinea 38, Ethiopia 39, Mozambique and Congo 44, Nigeria 46. In America it is 72 and Japan 75.

There are 825,000,000 adults in the world today who are illiterate—they can't read—can't read the Bible, can't read a tract, can't read the instructions on a can of soup. The number is increasing, not decreasing. Between 1960 and 1980 the number of illiterate men grew by 20 million and women by 74 million.

In the world today, one out of every three deaths is the death of a child under five. 125,000 children die every week from malnutrition and simple infections that we control with inexpensive vaccinations.

In America there are 546,000 doctors, 133,000 dentists, and 1.5 million nurses. In India, with three and a half times the number of people, there are half the number of doctors, 90% fewer nurses, and 93% fewer dentists.

In the entire country of Mozambique where Quintin and Debbie Reece are going, with 16 million people, there are only 279 doctors, 96 dentists and 2,600 nurses. In Guinea where our Maninka team is heading, with almost seven million people there are 300 doctors, 21 dentists, and 1,600 nurses.

David Barrett, the world's leading authority on missions statistics, points out in this year's statistical table (International Bulletin of Missionary Research, vol. 14, no. 1, Jan. 1991) that 23% of the world is totally ignorant of Christianity, Christ, and the gospel. That's 1.2 billion people in thousands of unreached people groups after 2,000 years under the standing orders of King Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations.

Less than 9% of all Christian missionaries are targeting the ethnic groups that these people are in. Less than 1% of the income of the Christian world is spent on reaching the unreached peoples.

What Are We to Do with Our Lives?

The question this raises is: What is our life for in this age of misery and lostness until Jesus come? What are we to do with our lives? What are we here for?

Last Sunday night Bill Waldrop gave a powerful message on "The Glory of God and You." He quoted some of Jesus' final words to his Father from John 17:4. Jesus said to his Father, "I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do."

Waldrop said, "I want to be able to say that same thing when my death draws near." "I have glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work you gave me to do." That hit me with tremendous power. And my heart said, "Yes, Lord, that's what I want to say too." I want to live my life in this age of massive misery and lostness so that when I die, I can look up from my bed, not with any pretense of perfection, not with any illusions of my indispensability, but with faith and hope in Jesus my Savior, and say, "I have glorified you, Father, on earth, having accomplished the work you gave me to do."

From Success to Significance

Waldrop said that he has spent a lot of time in his career working with men. He said that he has noticed that somewhere around the age of 50 the question men ask starts to change. The question stops being so much one of success and becomes more and more one of significance. Men start to realize that, as the end of their lives approaches, the question, "Have I been a success?" starts to seem unimportant compared to the question, "Has my life been significant?" "Have I spent my time on the things that matter most?" One of my goals this morning is to get you to ask that question long before you turn 50, or for some of you, long after you turned 50.

This is not an easy question. I don't think God means for it to be easy. I think God means for us to be on our faces before him presenting our bodies—our lives—as living sacrifices, for him to use in any way, anywhere, anytime he pleases for the greatest good of the world and the greatest glory of his name.

He means for children, as soon as they know Christ as Lord and Savior, to be praying: "Jesus, I will go anywhere and do anything anytime you say. Just show me and help me. I want my life to count for you in the midst of all the spiritual and physical poverty of the world."

He means for adults, in every vocation, to pray, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I am willing to stay in this job for your glory. And I am willing to be deployed in a totally new frontier for your glory. But whatever you do, Lord, don't let me waste my life on insignificant pursuits. Don't let me live for luxury while millions live without Christ and without hope. Let me accomplish the work that you gave me to do for your glory."

Life is very short. James says, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14). And eternity is very long. Are you living your life as though it were a breath of vapor just before everlasting joy? Or are you living your life as though it were the only chance you will have to be comfortable, the only chance you will have to buy fun things, the only chance to have a home to get away from it all, the only chance to buy your dream cottage, the only chance to play games?

Our Need for Stillness and Reflection

One of the reasons we invest our lives in some insignificant ways is that we never become still enough to let the great realities hit us. We are always on the move. Always in a hurry. Or when we do stop, we flip on the radio or the TV and let somebody else's hurry fill our minds.

Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still [or cease striving, cease hurrying, be still, be quiet] and know that I am God. I am [or: will be, it's probably a promise] exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

What that text says is that the life-revolutionizing impact of God's supremacy in the world and his inevitable triumph over the nations, and the coming of his glorious kingdom of righteousness and peace—the impact of this awesome reality doesn't hit us and hold us and shape us unless we become still, and quiet before God. GOD hits home in the stillness. If you want your life to be significant, you've got to stop running, and stop scurrying about, and turn off the TV and the radio, and get alone, and be quiet, and let the mammoth realities of human lostness and eternal judgment and never-ending joy and God's universal triumph take hold of you and change your life.

God Is Your Refuge and Strength

And you will follow his lead if you believe that he is your refuge and strength, which is what verse 1 says: "God is our refuge and strength." People turn away from the risks of significance and choose the brief security of success because they don't really believe this—that God is their strength, and God is refuge, and God is their defender and their refreshment.

But I want you to believe it. Look at the connection between verses 2–3 and verse 6. "Though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam . . . " The words for "shake" and "roar" are the same Hebrew words used in verse 6: "The nations rage [roar] and the kingdoms totter [shake]."

The point of using these same words like this is to show that whether the threat to us is from nature (with earthquakes and floods and storms, verses 1–3) or from political upheaval and wars (verse 6)—whether our world is shaking from nature or from the nations, God is our refuge.

And not just a refuge but an active counter force and a source of peace and refreshment. Verse 6b says that God's response to the raging nations is this: "He utters his voice and the earth melts." His response to dangerous seas that roar and foam is to become for us (note verse 4) another kind of water—river (not a tumultuous sea)—a river whose streams make glad the city of God.

This is the secret this morning to whether you will choose significance or mere success: The risks of significance turn out to be no risk at all if you believe that God is your refuge and strength and defender and refreshment. I pray that you will believe it and that God will make plain the path of significance

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1 comment:

Mags said...

this is an awesome post, thanks girl

and LOVE the site look. looking fab

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