August 29, 2012

Of the Day

In 1997, I attended the first ever Passion conference in Austin, Texas. There, I heard John Piper speak for the first time, and I recall having to pay very close attention to his words so as to understand what this whole "Christian hedonism" idea was all about. Aside from Dr. Piper, I also discovered Christy Nockels, Charlie Hall, and other worship leaders that still impact me today. The conference was life changing in many ways, full of mind-searing moments.
One such moment: Louie Giglio, at the end of his talk exhorting us to be a generation that would live for God's renown, asked if we might be willing to die for Christ, to literally give our lives for Him. I stood with others, agreeing that I would. I stood because I desperately wanted to do big things for God, and I imagined that physical death on behalf of Christ was about the biggest thing I could do for Him.

It wasn't difficult to stand, however, because, for me, martyrdom was a lofty ideal; I doubted I would ever be asked to make good on that promise.

But the fact is that I have had to make good on that promise. I have not been in a country closed to the gospel where I've had to affirm my faith at risk of my physical life. If I ever am in that situation, I pray that I would speak for my Savior.

I have come to realize, however, that following Christ means that I deny myself and any self-authority, that I die a spiritual death and allow Jesus to live His life through me. Maybe, just maybe, that was the real question I was answering that day: Will I know death for the sake of Christ while my physical heart keeps beating? 

Isn't this doing something big for God? Crucifying our worldly ambitions and our fleshly desires so that Jesus might live His life through us? Our ideas of big things for God too often mirror worldly success: numbers, followers, crowds, money, applause. God's ideas of big things simply mirror Jesus: humility, service, sacrifice for others, single-minded focus, submission to the Father.

This is the power of the current moment, of the day, of the present: we can do big things for God a thousand times a day. In the acts done toward Him and for His pleasure ("as unto Him")--when we grieve with those who grieve, when we train our children, when we worship alone, when we speak truth to those who won't want to hear, when we sacrifice to provide for the orphan, when we show respect to a husband who neglects, when we carry out the mundane tasks of homemaking, when we make a connection with a neighbor--we actually become a living sacrifice. A death while the heart beats.

This is good news for us, women of no worldly success or influence, because the things we do each day, if done after our spiritual resurrection, these small things, these building blocks, add up to a life that matters to God. There is no hierarchy of success, where those who make big splashes in Christendom earn more of God's pleasure. He simply gives differing gifts. No, there is only one thing that separates: the answer to the question. Are we willing to die for Christ?

As we die daily, when we offer our lives as living sacrifices, the small things become the big.

Do you see your normal, everyday life as doing something big for Christ? 

For further reading, read Luke 9:23-25 and check out "The Weight of Glory" essay in C.S. Lewis' The Weight of Glory.