Roadblocks to Living Empty
As people file in and out of churches on Sunday I can not help to wonder if any of them leave straightway to take the gospel to someone who needs to hear it? I can honestly say that I have never done it. I have been too busy thinking about dinner or something else. I need to change this about myself...
Living empty, talking faith, and opting in to following Jesus means I need to get past some roadblocks that are blocking the way to the coming Kingdom.
If we had just heard the word of the Lord why isn't it our first inclination to tell someone who needs to hear it? Why are we leaving church with no inspiration that moves us to action? Certainly it's not that the Holy Spirit is restricting us from such action. It is not like the Pastor would frown upon us for committing such a deed. While there are external forces that keep us from sharing our faith, it is the internal struggle with insecurity that provides that central roadblock.
I have yet to meet a man or woman that does not deal with insecurity. My assumption is that we all do, and I think there is merit to this assumption based solely on the annual sales figures of self-help and positive thinking books and seminars. Insecurity is rooted in the sin that has yet to be dealt with by the Holy Spirit. Insecurities keep us from sharing the gospel, praying, and having faith because we believe a lie that we are not adequate to partake in these divine splendors. These internal roadblocks are manifested in our choices and they then become external roadblocks.
Perhaps, the focus of our earthly intent has us distracted. If we would have invested as much time in our relationship with God as we have shaping our careers or providing the “good life” for our families maybe our faith would simply spill out in overflow. Certainly many will say that serving God is the most important aspect of life. But it seems that even 20 minutes is too much of a struggle to spend reading the Bible, praying, meeting with fellow Christians, and serving others. But every morning they devote (or did at some point) 8, 10, 12 hours a day to their job. The mortgage, bills, and necessities of life demand that time be spent to address them. They become sources of worry when they are not on point, and sources of ego when they are surpassing expectations. Both scenarios have a deep impact on how you live empty, talk faith, and opt in to following Jesus.
For the record, I would never write in opposition to working and providing for your family. Work is a Biblical mandate. It gives us a sense of good pride. But when one’s focus is constantly on personal advancement or accumulation of wealth then it becomes more difficult for the person to hear the voice of God (See Matthew 19:24). Where your heart is your treasure is. Still there is a bigger threat.
Spiritual Selfishness - Our Biggest Threat
But I do suppose there is a true selfishness in us all. Especially a spiritual selfishness. In a recent #SOTW, Pastor Greg Williamson said that the older we get the less likely we are to talk about our faith. But we never stop praying that God meets our needs. We don't cease from praying that we receive healing. We always pray for what we want. As children of God we are expected - and encouraged - to do so. Nothing wrong there. What is wrong is that few are progressing past the “bless me” stage and on to the the "thy kingdom come, thy will be done" and the "here am I send me" stages.
An example of this would be that when we pray for another person - a friend, a child, a politician - we pray that God would have them do what we think is best, not necessarily that the kingdom of God would be brought forth in that person in the manner that God see most fitting. This is part of the reason that we experience disappointment with God. We prayed the specific result we desired and in the end we received what God desired. When they don't match up, we pout.
Remove the Roadblock
We all need to arrive at the point in our lives where we are more concerned about what we can offer to God as living sacrifices than spending our spiritual lives concerned about what God is going to do for us. But how?
Be honest with yourself, with God, and, if necessary, a trusted friend. There is no shame in confessing that you have insecurities or that you have set your priorities to serve your kingdom rather than God's. But denying the promptings of the Holy Spirit will result in an immature and selfish faith that is void of the transforming power of the Gospel.
There is one thing that the Holy Spirit is talking to you about. Specifically pursue that one thing. Is it the need to spend more time in God's word? Do you need to change the focus of your prayers? Do you need to focus on the Kingdom more and on the blessings less? What is the one thing you are being prompted to address? Address it.
You can confess your insecurity. You can recognize the one area that the Holy Spirit is pointing to. But all is for not if you don't actually do anything about it. Obedience is a call to act - to do. Rarely is it easy. Obedience means submitting your desires to the will of another. In this case, the other is God and yet our stubborn hearts still don't find it easy to submit. But you can do it. Jesus shows us how.
In the garden at Gethsemane, Jesus pleaded to his Father that another way be chosen to achieve redemption. The cross is gruesome and grotesque, tortuous and agonizing. But there was one thing to do. To be obedient...unto death...even the death of the cross. You are being asked to be obedient. If Jesus can do it through the help of the Holy Spirit, you can do what you are being asked to do, too.