It was a Thursday and I was gearing up for an insane weekend. I texted some friends of mine, making sure they had a babysitter for Sunday night. I was sure they did, I just wanted to do the polite thing and make sure. They replied with a no, they did not have a babysitter. Dang it! Friday and Saturday would very physically exhausting for me. I had plans to relax with my friends well into the evening Sunday night. I knew that if I did not babysit (though my friends didn’t say this, they were very releasing), the wife would not be able to attend the leaders meeting at our church. At that moment I was wishing that I did not have a conscience, why did I have to be so stinking sensitive to the Holy Spirit! I wanted to do what I had planned. I was going to be serving (Friday and Saturday) to the point of exhaustion. I deserved a Jessica day. I deserved a day to do what I wanted. Wait, but did I?
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:1-3
At that moment I was displaying a very large idol, myself. I was putting my own desires, my own interests, my own leisure over serving a brother & sister…the bride of Christ. Before you begin to wonder, let me be very clear. In this post I am not saying that we should always serve, no matter the cost to our bodies. NOT AT ALL!!! God created rest for a reason. We need it! I’ve also told people I couldn’t do something, because I had other plans (with friends) or because I needed some down time at home. Rest is a must!
But, I was convicted in this instance. It was clear that God was calling me to lay down my preferences, desires, and even the physical desire for rest. He was calling me to serve his bride and to sacrifice my own time for them. He showed me that the idol of “Jessica” and “Jessica’s time with friends” was causing me to be angry. It was that I had agreed to babysit that was the problem. I had a desire and it wasn’t fulfilled. That desire was more important to me than God. I had an opportunity to hang with friends and rest in the afternoon. The kids are a joy and easy to babysit…so, really, come on, what was the problem? The problem, things weren’t going according to plan and I wasn’t getting my way. I realized (thanks to the Holy Spirit using my mom!) that I was sinning and repented. The Lord gave me such a peace and joy. I was happy to serve my friends (who constantly serve me) and was actually looking forward to it!
Enter Sunday’s sermon. It was on Colossians 3:1-4…
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Matt’s main point was: “Knowing who Jesus Christ is and our identity in Him, changes the way that we live and what we live for.“ Wow, talk about convicting. On a side note, I’d encourage you to read his main points, comments, and quotes. They’re very insightful, encouraging, and helpful. I’ll include a link at the bottom of the post. Back on task. Throughout the sermon I kept thinking about the fact that my identity is in Christ. This changes how I live and what I live for. It changes what I do and why I do it. I started thinking about the times I’ve thought, “I’ve already served this much, don’t need to do this.” or “I’m tired. It’s been a long day. I don’t feel like taking out the trash for mom.” Somehow I feel this entitlement to do what I want because I’ve already filled my quota of serving for the day. The problem is, Scripture doesn’t talk about serving quotas. It doesn’t talk about serving only up to a point. Just the opposite is found. We are encouraged to serve selflessly and to the point of fatigue (1 Peter). Again, I’m not saying to wear yourself out and never rest or have time for yourself. :) I do a lot of that! But, there are times when God is calling me to serve above and beyond what I think is enough. And because I’m with Christ, He is my example. He is the One I follow and emulate. I’m called to lay my life down for others. For some people that has meant physical death or an enormous amount of self-sacrifice. For me, right now, today, it means taking out the trash and babysitting when I’m exhausted. It means loving my friends enough to say hard things when it may make them mad. It means listening to the Holy Spirit and following His lead.
This world is not where our true life is. Our life is with Christ and so we should seek to live life now as if we are already with Christ…This requires a response of faith – faith believing that we have indeed been resurrected with Christ and even though we do not yet fully see what that resurrection life is, we are to seek to live with Him now.
Because of His great love for me, I can love others. He has promised to give me all the grace and strength I need to obey Him. He has promised to not give me more than I can handle. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He has died for my sins…He died for me. This gives me faith to repent of my idol of self and to cheerfully follow (and attempt to emulate) my Savior. It gives me joy and eager anticipation. How can I bless and serve my family and local church? How can I show them this love? How can I serve like Christ. I am with Him. He is my identity. Now I try and act like who I am.