Moving from selfish to selfless

When I went to the bookstore last week to get some spiritual reading, I noticed that most of the books were about self-improvement.  The titles ran together as I founds books that promised to teach me how to pray better, lose weight God’s way and become a better Christian/Spouse/insert occupation here.  These all sounds like good things, right? We should want to improve and draw closer to God. We should want to be really good Christians.

That phrase, “we want” is prevalent in Christian Culture.  I often say it myself on Sunday “Lord, we want to be better people” or “Lord, we want to become the Church you want us to be”.  I’m sure we do want that, I do anyways.  But are we doing anything?  Are we working to make our ‘wants’ happen? What is our motive and primary objective with all this talk of self-improvement?

To be a Christian is often defined as being a believer in Jesus but it goes beyond that.  In order for us to truly be ‘Christian’ we must follow him and his teachings.  Theoretically I could believe what Jesus said but never put it into practice.  This isn’t really a Christ-centred life. Before Jesus left he gave us two tasks as his followers.  He said:

  1. Go make disciples.
  2. Teach them everything I’ve taught to you.

This might seem like a simple summary of Matthew 28:16-20, but that is our task as set out by Jesus.  We are told to go make disciples. We are to teach them the message.  That’s our job description in a nutshell.  Are we doing this?  Are we doing what Jesus asked of us?

In my own Church numbers are dwindling daily.  Presbyterianism is far from the coolest thing out there and we struggle with change.  We are opposed to it, afraid of it and it’s glaringly apparent to anyone new who enters the doors that there is an unsettled feeling among us. Some of us cannot conceive of a future that is different from what we know.  There is panic in our midst.

This panic is perhaps the thing I find most challenging about ministering in our time. We have entered a period where change is viewed as the enemy and we feel we must hold firm to what we know.  We make fun of other styles and structures.  We think that we have all the answers.

I know that not all change is good. Change for the sake of change brings trouble and there are some things we must hold firm to {the Gospel for example}.  The trouble is, we are holding firm to things that are not Biblical. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that worship must be a certain style or we must belong to one denomination.  Christianity is messy because it’s filled with people.  The rules and structure that are in place are there to help us understand and worship in our time.  Our worship service should be reflective of the work, mission and needs of the community it serves.

What the Bible does say is fairly simple.  Go out into the world and make disciples.  Baptize and teach.  Do it again, and again. Jesus doesn’t say how, he just says do it.  So we must.  We must do it.  How we do that depends on many things, and there is no one size fits all answer.

Personally I am comfortable worshipping in many formats.  I love a good old fashioned worship service.  I like the energy a contemporary service brings.  I love the buzz that modern worship brings with it’s sense of new possibilities.  All of these forms are authentic and meaningful to the people they reach.  All of them are needed and should be valued.  Each has a place in the Christian community.

I wonder if we are ready to move from selfish to selfless?  We are clinging to what we know and what we love at the expense of the mission and ministry of the Church.  We need to be willing to share the message.  We must move beyond ourselves.  We have to be willing to take risks {both personally and as a group of followers}.   There needs to be the willingness to change even if we, ourselves are not called into it.

Maybe once we’re willing to take risks and start thinking creatively we will see a new path and be given a new vision.  When we limit ourselves and fail to carry out the message we shut out God’s voice and prevent the fulfillment of our mission here on earth.   It seems to me that we need to move out into the world and introduce ourselves once more.  We should start doing what Jesus asked us to do.

4 responses to “Moving from selfish to selfless

  1. Recently picked up a copy at book exchange of “How Would Jesus Vote?”,
    D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe. It is a genuine attempt to bring guidance to Christians to govern oneself by Christian attitudes in the political, social and economic machinations of our time. It is an effort to help us find balance. On the other hand I found it disturbing as Jesus never went to the Roman senate or the Sanhedrin to give political discourse or to lobby to get laws past.

    • How weird would it be to see Jesus lobbying to get stuff done. He never lobbied, he just did. I wonder how much more would get done if we stopped talking and started doing!

  2. This is so well-said Becky!

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