The Discipline of Serving One Master

When I was fourteen and new to the whole teenage thing, I went with my youth group on a missions trip for 10 days to a few places across Eastern Canada. Our motto was: “40 people, 10 days, 8 cities, 1 bus, 1 message: Get Off The Fence“. In those 8 cities, we did services: open-air services, youth services, church services, and everywhere we set up our equipment, we led worship and did some sort of dramatic interpretation of our motto, “Get Off The Fence”. Today, at twenty-five, that message is sinking in.

Jesus, talking to his disciples:

“He that is faithful with little things is faithful with big things also. He that is not honest with little things is not honest with big things. If you have not been faithful with riches of this world, who will trust you with true riches? If you have not been faithful in that which belongs to another person, who will give you things to have as your own?

No servant can have two bosses. He will hate the one and love the other. Or, he will be faithful to one and not faithful to the other. You cannot be faithful to God and to riches at the same time.”

The proud religious law-keepers heard all these things. They loved money so they made fun of Jesus. Jesus said to them, “You are the kind of people who make yourselves look good before other people. God knows your hearts. What [people] think is good is hated in the eyes of God. Luke 16:10-15, NLV

Tonight, PJ challenged the youth group where I “sponsor”. He asked, “Can you honestly say that God and not money or materialism is your master?” He encouraged us to weigh our motives, testing ourselves by inquiring which master occupies the most time, thought and effort in our everyday lives.

I know what people think is good, and I can usually emulate it quite well, especially in church, where people are quick to judge something that seems to serve the world rather than God. But when there’s no one there to watch me, no one to impress, I’m not quite that person. I recognize that God is in me, I have a good heart, I’m a leader, I’m a “woman of God”, I’ve made good choices, etc. Clarification: this isn’t about self-esteem, folks; this is about spiritual discipline.

Our speaker last week gave us 5 Spiritual Disciplines to live by:

1. Simple & Sacrificial Living
2. Prayer, Fasting & Study
3. Solitude & Silence
4. Worship
5. Service to Others

In my daily life, I don’t naturally choose to engage in these disciplines. I don’t fill more time with these activities than music, movies, shopping, reading, etc. (again, clarification: this is not about not being able to have fun with music, movies, shopping reading, etc., but rather about balance and, again, DISCIPLINE!)

I wanna be faithful and honest with those things that seem so inconsequential in this big, wide world of media and malls (both of which I will continue to love), and I sure as hell don’t want to languish on the fence between two masters. So help me God, I will learn the discipline of taking time to serve my true master so that I am not found unfaithful.

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Offense

After reading Jimi’s “Boyfriend’s Rebuttal” to my post “My Cyber Boyfriend“, some of you may be taken aback by his use of some words (“ass” and “damn”). You’re wondering about my choice in men and you may even secretly doubt my own “Christian” values. Why am I with a guy that’s so open about swearing? Why did I not delete his post to prevent people from possibly being offended?

You’ll have to ask Jimi about his stance on swearing (yes, he does actually have something to say about it). I’m not going to either defend or debunk his use of different words (other than “o” instead of “au” when followed by “contraire“… that is just plain wrong).

As for me, I’m not offended. I’m likewise not offended when someone wears pyjamas to church, or spills their coffee on a Bible, or gets “Jesus is my homeboy” tattooed on their neck. I think the idea of “Christian” metalcore music is sweet (although I’m not a fan of the term “Christian” with regards to music and its genres)! I think Jesus would be willing to share a meal with his family in his house (your church) on Sundays, and I don’t think he’d quail at including wine in that meal. I think we could find Jesus at the movies and in the bars.

You may be thinking, “Sarah, this isn’t about legalism, it’s about your boyfriend’s potty mouth and your acceptance of it”.

I’d venture to say it’s about what really matters to us–someone’s actions or someone’s heart. People’s actions will often offend us, and if we leave it at that and refuse to dig deeper, that’s all we’ll see in life: violence, sex, drugs, porn, vulgarity, sin, sin, sin!

Yes, the enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy, and we should be on the defensive against him, but not against people who are different than us. Jesus came to bring full, abundant life. He came to bring redemption for “our” criticism and “their” confusion. He came to beautify people with salvation, not thrash them for petty choices of dress and wordage.

No, I’m not discounting modesty or respect. Good, honourable, desirable qualities, both. I’m simply asking you too look deeper. I’m asking you to consider a different code of behaviour than the list of Dos and Don’ts you grew up with. I’m suggesting that God looks at the heart, and seeks to make changes from the inside out.

Will you be like him?

Rumours of God

Those that have any knowledge of the Good Book know that every time the word “church” is used, it is in reference to the group of people that have decided to gather for the purpose of following God together, and never to buildings or customs used by said people. It never used to imply a set of rules or expectations. Condemnation wasn’t an original side effect.

I was one of those people that used to think that if you didn’t go to a certain church, or if you didn’t go to church every Sunday, your salvation was called into question. I used to be one of those that would have told you to go to the Pentecostal church in order to be a “real Christian”. I used to think that it was more important for me to be in church twice on Sundays than to ask God if there was anything specific he’d like me to do that day.

I’ve heard that my church used to have a Rule Book which listed guidelines for good Pentecostal behaviour. No, I haven’t been fortunate enough to actually see one… I’ve only heard about it, as I said, from someone who has. Movie-going was frowned upon, as was walking on the same side of the street as the movie theatre (sinner! You know you’ve broken that rule!). Apparently church-goers were discouraged from eating in the church on Sundays, because it was the House of the Lord and should be respected for its holy significance. We all know eating is a fleshly indulgence and disgraces the creator of both food and our digestive systems! If women wore pants, their salvation was in question.

We’ve come a long way since then. Yet we still don’t know how to relate to addicts of any sort, the divorced woman, the handicapped person, homosexuals, liberals, pro-choicers, etc. Porn, lust, and masturbation scare us so much that members of our own “church family” suffer in forsaken condemnation.

All too often, there is a wide barrier between us and the people we’re trying to “reach”. We’re not willing to jump over to the other side or get our hands dirty in the process of shining a light of love and truth onto the life of another. We imply “come to us and all will be better”, “inside the church you’ll be fine”, then once they’re “in”, if indeed they fall for it, often their true needs are neglected because they “accepted Christ”.

Jesus-loving people, I don’t believe it’s about how many hands are raised to repeat a prayer at the end of a sermon. It’s not about how many people are in the sanctuary on Sunday morning and evening. It’s not about our stellar programs or how much offering we’re sending back to the denomination’s head office! Whether or not the board members have been divorced or wear ties to church does not reflect on our church’s holiness. A ring in soemone’s eyebrow does not negate the earnestness of their heart’s faith.

I realize that structure is of great importance to some, and there are certain ways that you learned a God-life should be lived. My challenge to you is to dare to reconsider them in light of God’s continual creativity–his approach to this age and generation are different than others. I dare you to ask God what he actually thinks about things instead of just accepting someone else’s opinion, even if it is informed (yes, mine included 🙂 ).

God forgive us for propagating and believing rumours of him which have stifled our identities, our freedom, our creativity, and even our ability to think.