Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lesson #1

Now that I'm not leading Young Life anymore, I have lots of new found time on my hands. Which to many people probably sounds like a great thing. But for me, this has probably been one of the hardest things.

Before this past month, I cannot remember the last time I had TWO free evenings in one week. Free as in, there is absolutely nothing planned when I get off work. One thing I know about myself is that I am very performance oriented. I feel best when I do a good job and am accomplishing something. Having a personality like mine makes it very hard to fully grasp the concept of grace. The idea that my salvation, my relationship with God is not based on what I do, but what God has done. 

I remember when I first understood the amazing truth that Jesus Christ died for my sins so that I could have a relationship with Him. My response: give my life to Him. If He did something so amazing for me, it was the least I could do for Him. I'm not saying this response was wrong. I will be the first to tell you it was the best decision I've ever made. But in that response, there is still the little part of me that can't accept something for nothing. When I look at all God has done for me, I have to give something back. 

And Young Life provided me a great way to do that. Nearly every day of the past 10 years, I could point to something I did, and feel good that I had "done something for God". Now don't get me wrong. I knew that the things I did weren't earning my salvation. But it felt good to feel like I was giving something back. 

I think one thing that complicates this issue is the culture of the church in America today. I've read plenty of statistics about how people who call themselves Christians don't give any more of they money or time away than those who don't claim to be Christians.  We see plenty of people showing up for church on Sunday, only to go about living their lives the other 6 days and 23 hours no different than anyone who doesn't believe. The Bible warns against luke-warm faith, saying in the end they will be spit out. And the absolute last thing I want to be is luke-warm. 

Leading Young Life helped me feel assured that I was not a luke-warm Christian, and that I was living out my faith. And I can't say I didn't see this coming, but stepping away from Young Life took away all that false security that my faith is real, and I am not luke-warm, because I no longer have that safe place where I can live out my faith.

While the Bible does warn against being luke-warm, Jesus also warns against a life of doing good things. 

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Prophesying, driving out demons and healing are not enough. There is nothing we can do that is enough. Our salvation and our lives are about what Jesus did for us. Knowing God's will for our lives can only come from having a relationship with Him. I could lead Young Life for the rest of my life, but if I do not have a relationship with Jesus, it makes no difference. And when I was leading, things were getting so busy that my relationship with Him was suffering. 

I am confident that He called us away from the ministry so we could take some time and simply be with Him.  I am confident that there will be opportunities for future ministry that He is preparing us for right now. And so while it is hard to not see the students we love dearly as often as we would like, I am really beginning to believe that God loves me regardless of what I do for Him, and that my worth is not tied to what I am doing.

On a side note, we are currently involved in ministry through the rec program at our church, coaching a soccer team. However, because the time commitment for this is probably less than 3 hours a week, it doesn't quite fill the void left by leading. But, it has brought with it new challenges and lessons, which I  will share about next time. 

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