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Monday, November 02, 2009

Serving God

If you're any kind of a Christian (i.e., with any solid commitment to Christ), you probably have some desire to do "the work of the Lord." We've all thought it. Some of us have said it. A few of us have declared our "calling" and made a bold statement about what we think God wants of us. To be sure, serving God is a noble cause. Doing God's work here on earth is something that all Christians really should aspire to.

But what does it mean to really serve God with one's life? I suspect many people would be surprised. It doesn't mean running a church. It doesn't mean writing songs. It doesn't mean starting an orphanage, or working in a soup kitchen. Serving God doesn't require one to adopt orphans, nurse the sick or give large percentages of your wealth. You don't need to bake pies for the church fund raiser, or be pen pals with those in prison.

So what does God want from us? What sort of work is that truly pleases God most. Ironically, it isn't work that pleases God at all. You see, the work we do to show the love of Christ to the world around us should ideally just be a by-product of what really wants. God doesn't want our work. (The Bible uses the term works - to denote all the sorts of things I mentioned above.) Rather God wants our surrender, our submission, our obedience.

We often hear the phrase in our modern culture, "Whatever!" This is precisely what God wants from His people. Whatever He says. Whatever He commands. Whatever He asks. The Lord God wants hearts that are so yielded to Him that we are willing to do whatever --- with no exceptions. We don't get to know all the things in whatever before we agree to it either. That wouldn't be a yielded heart!

Many times we are so in love with God that we want to go out and save the world. We are certain that with God's help we surely can (save the world) too. Those of us who are less sincere in our faith, may feel guilt or other emotions (like wanting approval) that drive us to do good works. But here's the thing: whatever motivates us to good works in God's name is probably wrong.

Absolutely nothing should motivate us to do good works in God's name. Rather it is our unconditional yielding to God's will that will bring about good works (also called fruit). So rather than sit and think of things we can do for God, we need to get to know God.

Psalm 46:10 tells us “Be still, and know that I am God.” God’s people are commanded to “be still” in this verse. The imperative gives a solemn duty to those in a covenant relationship with God — Israel in the Old Testament, but today, it is given to Christians,

What does it mean when God’s own are commanded to “be still”? The injunction is not given to restrict the mobility of God’s people. The duty represents a spiritual disposition that ought to characterize those to whom God’s unfailing promises have been given.

Sadly, there are those who are far from “still”; they “do all the work” and give God some (maybe) of the credit. They believe that by “lifting up their hands” and by “taking courage,” they can survive and thrive by the sweat of their own brow. They can do it all on their own, without any divine dependence.

Here is the irony in this term “be still.” While we must take the initiative to fulfill our responsibilities and live our lives, the uncertainties of living in a world of sin and woe will continually challenge us. Personal initiative is no substitute for reliance upon God.

This command — “be still” — forces us to think on two things: that we are finite, and that God is infinite. That being the case, we need to drop our hands, go limp, relax, and “chill out.” Christian people must take time to come and behold the works, nature and character of God. We do this so that we may enjoy a calm confidence in him who gave us his Son.

This spiritual calm, that God commands, does not come from a lack of troubles; it derives from a steady, deep reflection on the ways God has intervened in history on behalf of his people. And it certainly doesn’t come from one who stays busy serving God. Busy-ness does not produce this spiritual calmness.

So as the world crumbles around us, the call from Scripture is not to get busy and try to save the world from itself. Rather the command is to stand strong --- but stand still — not because of a self-made confidence, not because you are the most composed person in the face of disaster, not because “you’ve seen it all.” Be still because of what you know about God.

It is “God’s past” that provides calm for “our future.” Know that he is God! Know it, not merely intellectually, but practically, spiritually, and emotionally. He is your God. He is the ruler of kingdoms of this earth and the all-powerful Creator of the Universe.

If you are the last man or woman standing, be still. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth will change.

True Christ-followers will not be out trying to do all the things they can think of to serve God. Rather they will be still, prepared to do whatever He asks them to, whenever He asks them to.

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