(Feel free to enter into the dialogue. Share with me your thoughts. Let’s enter into conversation…)
My daughter, who is now a seminary professor, came to my wife when she was four and asked her mother the question, “How big is your heart?” My wife asked her to close her fist. She closed her fist and my wife said, “Your heart is about as big as your fist. Why did you want to know?” My daughter’s response was, “That’s not very big. Instead of loving Jesus with my whole heart, I’m going to love Him with my whole body!” That’s the way my daughter has always thought about her commitment in serving Jesus Christ and His purpose for her life.
The other day some friends told me about an experience they had in church when the speaker challenged the congregation to take off their shoes, bring them forward, and put them on the altar to be given to the poor. Many people responded, leaving the congregation barefooted because they had put their shoes on the altar. It was good that the church was in Florida where people could travel home barefooted!.
I wonder what would have happened if those same people had been challenged to come down front and lay their lives on the altar of service to Jesus Christ, the King of Kings? Maybe taking off your shoes is a first step, no pun attended.
It seems in most churches that the days are gone when we sang 15 verses of “Just as I Am” until we were sure everyone the Holy Spirit was talking to had responded to the call of God to give their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. Sinners were called to repentance. Backsliders were called to return to their first love in Jesus. The weak were challenged to find assurance in the full redemptive work of Christ. The sick were invited to meet with the elders for healing prayer. Those were days of wonder working power in the church.
You might say “Get a Life, that’s not the way it’s done in 2014.” When and where does the line get drawn as to what God expects. If Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then why was yesterday different than today in the demand for laying oneself on the altar of commitment to Jesus Christ so that He can work through us. The stars have not changed in their course. The earth has not changed in its relationship to the Sun. The condition of the human race has not changed in the way it plays out its grand game of “King of the Hill” at every level of society. What is at the core of bullying, but a game of king of the hill.
So why should I “Get a Life” when the only life to get is one given to the One who is the same, “yesterday, today, and forever!” A life that emulates the apostle Paul when he says “I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:19-21
There are still churches around the world that experience that energy or wonder working power through the Holy Spirit, but many churches in America, as in Europe, are drying up. There are parts of the world where many are coming to Christ. In Europe and America we have humanized God, deified man, and minimized sin.
When people give their lives to Christ, God requires more than your shoes. God wants us to give our whole selves, body and soul, as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2) to be used in service to do the works Jesus has ready for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
I am not trying to demean the giving of shoes, but only reminding us that it is out of the heart that people are motivated to become world changers. As a person thinks in their heart, so they are. Proverbs 23:7 My daughter at the age of 4 grasped the concept that God wanted her to lay down her life for what she believes. Belief systems are not a convenience, they are the foundational platform upon which to build conviction, opinion, and determination that leads to the utilization of opportunity.
When we do not define what we believe, we live life spiritually out of focus. When a life is spiritually out of focus, it fails to define its witness of what it believes. Generally a life that is out of focus intimidates rather than loves its neighbor. The Bible speaks to this in the book of James 1:5-8, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
Confidence and assurance is found in the abiding principle of being in the vine which is the life giving source of the Christian’s belief system. Jesus Christ, as we have stated in previous blogs, is the only vine through which eternal life is achieved. (John 15) “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
I guess in today’s church world we take what we can get. Giving has declined to the lowest levels since the great depression. According to an article by David Briggs, 11 primary denominations’ giving as a percentage was lower in 2000 than during the depth of the great depression. Only 3% of members actually tithe. One out of five self-identified Christians give nothing at all. These are not good stats.
Each one of us stands barefooted before God alone. No one has the capacity to make heaven apart from divine provision. The first thing God told Moses was to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground. Maybe shoe removal is a good first step toward an attitude of total commitment. In a way taking off one’s shoes could be a step in turning toward God’s will and purpose for your life. It is not because you are fulfilling a mission of shoeing the poor, but because you are stepping into the place God has for you to serve by placing your faith in Jesus Christ. God wants you to feel the earth he created beneath your feet. We need to realize that everything God creates is holy and needs to be used for the purposes for which he has created it. You will someday return to earth and it is only through him that you will transcend the earth and live forever with him in heaven.
“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:12-17
Thanks for reading my blog thoughts. Feel free to enter into the dialogue. Share with me your thoughts. Let’s enter into conversation. Moses took off his shoes and God gave him a life plan to fulfill with the full assurance that He would be with him. Moses would know, as he allowed God to work through him, that the sufficiency of his faith would bring satisfaction to his soul.