This past weekend our church had a Fall Fest in our city to offer families in the area a safe, fun, and free fall event. Our mission was to serve our community and to welcome them into our church – our family of brothers and sisters – if interested.
As I watched other members of our church interact with kids and parents strolling through the park, I found myself thinking about our mission as followers of Christ, to love others and to serve them. Such a simple yet profound concept it seemed – to love others above myself. I saw this being demonstrated beautifully in many around me. But I couldn’t help feeling overcome by the thought that I, myself, was a fraud.
I was there for the purpose of serving others, but the main thing I seemed to think about was myself. My schedule. My agenda.
How could I, in a self-absorbed state, ever model the love of Christ to others?
Christ’s love is infallible. Pure. Beautiful. And my life does it such injustice.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been on a mission to make my faith my own. It’s no longer something my parents have given me or tried to instill in me. My faith – what I believe and live by – has to be something I own. And on this mission to understand and connect the knowledge in my mind to the state of my heart, I’ve come to define my faith as this:
I desperately need to be saved from myself. And Jesus is the only one and thing, powerful enough to do that.
In our church bulletin on Sunday, a section from our confession of sin read:
Father of Mercy, help us to own our need for mercy.
We pretend that we can manage life alone. Our lack of trust for our brothers and sisters ruins the quality of our community life. At times we are too self-righteous to need; other times we are too self-absorbed to give.
Son of Mercy, shape us into a community that responds to one another’s needs.
Your Word says for us to give to others according to their need, but we often give according to what will maintain our comfortable lifestyles. Or worse, we stay distant and disconnected so that we won’t have to be bothered by other people’s needs, or have our own exposed.
It was one of those times I felt the words hit like arrows to my heart. How often I think I can manage life on my own, too self-righteous to show need and by effect, unable to give. Preferring distance to inconvenience; pride to vulnerability.
My heart and mind, left to itself, is destructive. It hates what is good and clings to what is evil. I forget I am on a battlefield, fighting giants and quickly losing ground because I have insufficient strength to overcome on my own. Without Jesus, my life is one messy attempt to find satisfaction in one thing after another, to please me, myself, and I. And it never works. In fact, it ends in self hatred.
So I find myself at God’s feet again, looking up to Him saying “…and you still want me? You still accept me?”
And He does; even though I’d throw me out. But see…that’s just it. The gospel – God’s story of redemption and restoration through His son Jesus – is for the broken. It’s for the imperfect. It takes us as we are and promises to change us if we submit and relinquish control. We are made more like Him as we learn from His example.
And sometimes, just being real and admitting to others that we don’t have it all together…like at all, is our witness. It’s evidence that if God can love and save someone as imperfect as myself, He can certainly save you.
Pastor Jason said in his sermon on Sunday, self reflection alone is not good enough. We must return to Christ in prayer and repentance and ask for His help. We must ask for Him to change us…and give us the power to live that out.
Jesus, I need your power in my life. Majorly. Help me to become others-centered and not self-centered. Help me to live radically different than the world around me…and to give up the fear and the lies of what I will lose in the process.
Thank you that Your mercies are new everyday.