Some of the lessons I continue to learn as I desire to the Kingdom expand!
”It’s not your old life you want back; it’s your old idols you want back, and I love you too much to give them back to you.”
A friend recently gave me a book entitled Jesus + Nothing = Everything. A man testifying to the gospel transforming him through a journey of obedience. When we follow God’s leading, there is the desire that everything will unfold smoothly yet that is not always the case. People who once fully supported a decision and direction will begin to question and sometimes even slander us. Change is not easy. Obedience is not easy as it often is counter cultural. When everything felt hard and there was no end in sight, the author cried out to God in weariness, fear and anger. The response was the quote above.
I am encouraged to be reminded that God loves me too much to allow myself to get caught up in all the ”what’s not” happenings around me and constantly inviting me to focus on the ”what is”. As I look to see a new church planted and thriving, I can find many reasons to be discouraged. It’s not moving fast enough. People don’t understand. How do I describe where we actually are today without exaggerating? Maybe some people no longer want a church plant. I don’t see this and I don’t see that. I want to describe the work so that I could look like I know what I am doing or so people can think some kind of way about me. If my mind stays focused on what is not, I find the need to defend, prove or justify something.
Instead the truth is that I can find so much encouragement by what is. As I look in the scriptures and observe how it worked over time, God was never in a rush. It always came back to what we have in Christ. The journey of making God known does not supersede my own walk with Jesus and daily being transformed by the gospel. How am I am modelling transformation so that those I am influencing see it and desire it? What idols am I longing to cling to rather than discovering deeper freedom in the gospel?
How does this relate to church planting? The current work in so many ways is encouraging. Yet when I look at what is not, my gaze and focus can be turned toward unhelpful concerns. Learning how keep my gaze focused on Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to remove idols that would hinder my own life from being transformed is a great place to be! If I desire a healthy growing church to exist, it begins with a community being transformed by the gospel and every member cultivating other discipleship relationships seeing the same thing. If the gospel is not transforming us as individuals or a community, then the desire for a church plant can become its own idol.
I don’t want my old life back and I know I don’t want idols in my life. May the Lord continue to have His way with me so that He may be glorified in whatever way it looks.
Written by Sarah Bedi serving in Luleå. firstname.lastname@example.org