Driving home from work yesterday - I often find myself pondering deep subjects during the one-hour-plus drive home - I found a swirling mass of confusion buried within my head. That's probably always there, but yesterday's topic of the moment had to do with various sermons I've heard in recent weeks.
And what is this daily Christian walk all about, anyway?
The station where this train of thought originated was Sunday morning's guest preacher, who spoke about discipleship. There is a difference between being a believer and being a disciple. Yes, I believe that making a commitment to being a disciple of Christ is vastly important. Our guest preacher made some statement to the effect that God is more concerned with your progress in becoming like Christ than pretty much anything else. So it's all about me making progress in my relationship with God. It's all about me? Well, sure, I'd like to believe that the world revolves around me, and I know God does love me more than I could possibly imagine, but when my focus becomes myself and my spiritual progress, I'm just turning inward and becoming more self-absorbed.
The train of thought then proceeded to make quick stops at "Outreach" and "Witnessing", two stations that we the church have been told are of paramount importance. After all, it's all about the Great Commission. We're supposed to be out there spreading the Gospel! I think I've made my feelings on witnessing clear to y'all (that's witness with an "N", not with an "L")... Yes, it's also very important to reach out to the lost and show them the love of God. Paramount? How can I make that the most important thing when I'm so concerned with my own spiritual progress?
The train of thought nearly derailed after Wednesday night's exhortation about being "the salt of the earth". It's all about preserving what's good, and standing up to the evil that's trying to overtake our culture. Our job as the church should be to stand strong and oppose the creeping immorality that is sucking America down into the sewer. We should be out there signing petitions and holding rallies and picketing and preaching against gay marriage, abortion, taking "under God" out of the pledge of allegiance and prayer out of schools. We've got to take this country back! Forget loving the lost, we need to tell them they're oh-so-wrong and then get out and vote Republican, for pity's sake, before it's too late!
Not that any of these sermons were quite so strongly worded, or that I think any of them were theologically incorrect. But in my own mind, I was searching for focus, and looking at any one of these sermons individually, I was losing it. Is it all about me? Or all about them? Or all about standing up for what's right? What is right in some cases? What now?
And then... that still, small voice. It's all about Him.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
(Phil 3:7-11, NIV)