Wednesday, May 28, 2008

To the Full

the first official blog pressure...haha

So God has really been waking me up to a lot lately. He loves to do that...and I love when He does, even when it stings. He's been waking me up to what's really happening in the world around me, popping my little "bubble of comfort" that I had created for myself...and breaking my heart for all the pain, suffering, and injustices of the world. If we really take a look around us, we'll see that we are living in a world of zombies, in a world of people who are breathing air, but not really living. And sadly, it’s a deadness that has infected even the church. Deadness is in the air. You can see it in people’s faces. They’re searching for something more.

I’m thinking that there’s really three ways you can “be” in the world. There’s existing…there’s living…and there’s living to the full. 

I was one of those grew-up-in-a-Christian-home, in-the-pews-every-time-the-church-is-open typical, nice Christian girls. I said the right things and stayed out of trouble. I thought I was doing everything right. But I knew down in the depths of my being that I was missing something. I looked at other Christians who were living passionate and purposeful lives, and I knew they had something I had missed. There was very little about my walk with Christ that brought me true joy or passion or fulfillment. It wasn't until I started actually falling in love with the Lord (when I was about 19) that I realized I had never really loved Him with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. I had followed the rules and the religion, but had completely missed the relationship. 

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Notice that the verse does not say,  “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have belief…”. Christianity was never meant to end at just believing in God. He came to offer life! It’s very possible to exist, but not be alive. You can do all the things that existing entails – you can go to school, you can eat food, you can get married, have a family, have a job -  and never really be alive! You can exist without ever knowing the depth and meaning that God created you to know and experience. So this invitation to know and follow Jesus has very little to do with staying away from beer and curse words and rated R movies. He didn’t come to offer rules and religion. He came to give us life, and life to the full!

But in the past few months, I’ve started to realize that there’s a difference between “life” and “life to the full”. I think I had somehow fooled myself into thinking that there was an end point to this – that once you fall in love with Jesus, you’ve found life to the full, and that's the end of the story. But God has really been challenging me lately - challenging me to look at my daily life and determine whether or not it is truly reflecting His Word (all of His Word). It’s been really hard and really humbling, but so good and so necessary. 

The most challenging Scripture for me over the past few months has been Isaiah 58. The people of Israel were a good people. In some ways, they were like me. In many ways, they were better. They kept up their religious practices and regularly sought God. They went to Temple every day, devoted themselves to learning about God, prayed faithfully. In them, I saw myself…keeping up with the religious practices, seeking God, eager for Him to come near. And the Israelites rightfully asked God, “Does this not please you?” And His answer to them hit me right between the eyes. He wasn’t impressed. He answers, “Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?” It’s a crushing thing to hear…and I was hearing it in my heart. What does God want from His people? He tells them “to loose the chains of injustice, to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked to clothe him.” That is some messy stuff. But what if what God wants is messy? What if, like the Israelites, my spiritual service was a bit too tidy? A bit too contained in the white walls of religion? A bit too focused on me? What if all this time I’ve been polishing myself up to exhibit spiritual excellence when what God really wants is something completely different? Not to stay home perfecting myself, but to go out into the world. To transform it through action, in service and in love. And while being in love with my Maker and growing spiritually are so very important, I’m starting to realize that I’m on this planet for more than just that. We are here to be tools of restoration, to restore broken places. But we just tend to get stuck and let it end at redemption, at salvation. If we let it stop there, we lose our place in this world. 

I believe that when you start to re-connect with your true purpose, you start to get a taste of what life to the full is all about. But I’m also starting to realize that there’s not an end point to this. Just when you think you’re experiencing “life to the full”, God shows up and says, “ah you think that’s good? Let me show you something else!”…and then He starts to open up another world of life to you! It’s a never ending journey. God is changing the way I view my life, the way I view my money, the way I view my time. My entire perspective on my purpose here is changing…it’s been off track. And I believe that God is calling me – is calling us -  to do something about it, to get in the game, to take a risk for His kingdom. The Body of Christ is starting to wake up from its sleep. There are many people who are ready to rise above a world that no longer dreams and no longer feels, that only exists. And this is where I believe “life to the full” begins to be realized…


jennieland said...

Hey Melanie! I saw your status on Facebook, so I figured that I would drop by and give you my blog. I am glad to see that things are going well for you! Tell your sister hi for me!

-Jennifer (Williams) Nieland

jackie said...

Yay Melanie! I am so excited that you have joined the blogging world. I really enjoyed reading your first post and look forward to more! I knew I could be persuasive enough.