The book, With, by Skye Jethani is deeply challenging. As I read I realized the deep flaws in my thinking and living because I have this deep urge to “feel bad” and wish I could go back and start over. That arises from my warped view of how to live “for” God.
The point is not to “feel bad” about how things have been. It is to realize the flaw in thinking, grasp what life WITH God is about, and move toward that life.
Much of my life has been lived in a way that was supposed to be “FOR” God. Jethani sees this life as being based in mission.
“Some great goal — understood to be initiated by God and carried forward by us — defines everything and everyone. An individual is either on mission, the object of the mission, an obstacle to the mission, an aid to the mission, or a fat Christian who should be on the mission.”
Over and over I remember the last 20 years of my ministry being about someone standing up in front of young people and saying, “I’m looking at a room full of world changers.”
I still hear, “Dream BIG DREAMS for God!”
And so many other similar slogans.
All this has been is about US. What WE for God. And if we’re not doing something FOR God, we have some deep spiritual flaw. The goal wasn’t to be a Christian. It was to “move up the chain” to a committed Christian, then, if you were lucky, a pastor. And if you were REALLY lucky, a missionary. And at the top: a missionary to a place you didn’t want to go.
Everything gets wrapped in what we “do” for God. What have we “accomplished” on God’s behalf?
Of course, we have some tough examples! Paul, being Exhibit A. The problem, however, is NOT Paul. It’s how we viewed Paul. We think of those passages about his “being all things to all people” and how he wanted to go to Rome so he could go so Spain and preach the gospel to unreached people there… and it’s a huge picture!
But what did Paul have at his core?
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:7-10)
At the core of Paul’s being was a heart that longed to simply know Christ. And he called his hearers to the same thing.
Quit putting God’s mission ahead of God himself. There is certainly a mission for us. But there is GOD HIMSELF.