I shared this a few weeks ago at church. I pray it moves you out of your comfort zone.
So many times in life we set goals, we make plans with the best of intentions. What happens, though, when God’s plan breaks in on ours? How do we deal with those interruptions?
At my dining room table one morning, while doing devotionals, I was interrupted by God. It wasn’t the first time that such an interruption occurred but it was the first time that it happened so clearly. Goals that were set, plans that were made, changed in an instant that morning. What followed was a journey of hope and life a purposeful living to God’s will as outlined in His word.
The thing with interruptions is that they move us out of our comfort zone. They bring us to a place where fear takes over. Our minds begin to take over and we will utter words like, “This is uncomfortable, are you sure about all this, why are we changing our course?” But sometimes we have to stop listening to ourselves and start listening to God.
We were not born to fear.
Babies are born with two fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Well if we open our bibles and read them we will find that the first of these fears is taken care of. Psalms 91: 11-12 tells us “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.” and as for the second fear, the fear of loud noises, we outgrow that as we get used to the world around us. So since we’ve dealt with the only fears we were born with, what is left to fear?
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Now think about the definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1 for a moment and replace faith with fear. “fear is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Fear and faith are divided by a fine line, much like genius and insanity. The fine line is selfishness.
Without a Godly worldview, that is, without a view firmly placed on the greatest commandment of love God and love others, faith disappears and is replaced by fear. Our words can speak life or death. Our words can be words of faith or words of fear. Fear is merely faith in the wrong god. If all our hopes are in ourselves, then fear has a chance to rear its ugly head and tell us why we will fall or fail once more.
If we’re going to declare a Relentless Passionate Pursuit of God and His will then we need to realize that the only thing causing us to relent is us. It’s the ideas that we’ve fabricated. It is the worship of myself. It is selfism.
Selfism, along with fear, are the two largest contributors to the defeat of the North American church today. We have made church and worship so much about us that we have forgotten who it is supposed to be about. I’m not talking about Satan either. On that topic, we have given him too much credit in our failings and need to recognize the real culprit. If you are a saved, blood-bought Christian, then yes, the enemy will try and come against you but you have the knowledge within you that he has been defeated. The biggest issue is that we haven’t allowed the old man to truly die and we try to maintain the facade of control instead of coming to the realization that we need to lose control and give it to who created it. God.
Jesus gave us the greatest commandment in Matthew 28:37-40, “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” We will tell ourselves things like, “I’m not called to preach,” and “I’m not called to the mission field.” These statements are based on fear, fear of what the outcome will be if we step out in faith to God’s interruption in our lives. Once we come to the realization that that there is nothing to fear, then the only thing remaining is that we don’t truly love God or our neighbor. I know these are bold and damning statements but if we open our hearts to understand God’s love then it begins to make sense. With love as our only motivation, and the realization that Christ has equipped us with His Spirit, then there is nothing to stop us from fulfilling the great commission.
What we are sitting amongst is the most fearful and selfish generation that ever was. While the world outside our stained glass windows is attacked with a barrage of mortar shells and gunfire. We sit comfortably knowing that our needs are being met where we are, and if they are not, then we will just find another comfortable seat in another church or at a coffee shop and cover our eyes and ears as we move out from comfort to comfort.
Interruptions are uncomfortable. We are told to ignore interruptions. Keep our head down and work. Keep our mouths shut and mind our own business. We are told that in order to be productive we have to minimize interruptions. Music off, quiet room, nobody around, the problem with this is that when we seclude ourselves because we have work to do, we end up in a conversation with ourselves. That conversation will at some point lead back to the beginning where we tell ourselves why we can’t do something, and if we are tired of listening to ourselves we will sleep. Sleep in our quiet, comfortable rooms eyes closed and mind unaware of what is happening around us.
Some of the interruptions, however, are not God interrupting us but us interrupting God. We interrupt God’s spirit working in us through our sin. We put a lot of our sin to one side and say to ourselves, “Well it’s not that bad, it’s not like I killed someone or committed adultery. It’s not like I stole something.” Most of the time we judge ourselves based on some imaginary scale of sin that somehow ranks the ten commandments in terms of how much we hurt others and then forget that the first five commandments are about God, not people. We dabble in it. A little here, a little there – hey it’s not like we’ve completely been turned over to sin. The only issue is that dabbling in sin, is like dabbling in Jesus. Regardless of whether you call yourself a Christian or not. The opposite of hot is not cold, rather, it is lukewarm. We are warned against out lukewarmness in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
This sin is a direct result of selfishness. Selfishness is a direct result of fear. Fear that causes shame, fear that causes us not to be honest with ourselves. Fear that stops us from jumping in with both feet, that causes us to not give up control. The fact of the matter is that the control is not ours to begin with. Control is the Lord’s. Proverbs 19:21 tells us “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s will that prevails.” So even though we live in constant fear, the good news is that the Bible provides us with a solution to our fear.
The answer to fear is love. 1 John 4:18 is clear, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
The good news for you is that you have been made perfect in love. When you accepted Christ and His spirit, you received the love of God. You received perfect love the moment you received the finished work of Christ. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” and 1 John 3:16 tells us, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
When we know that we are loved and we begin to exude love, shame no longer has power. When we live in love, fear loses its power because we are no longer focused inward on ourselves, but we have received the love of Jesus and having received the love of Jesus we can love like Jesus and our love is then focused outward. Love God and love your neighbour.