This may come as a shock … but, I’m not cool.
I know, earth shattering news. Right? Ask my kids, they will be quick to point out just how far below the coolness factor I have fallen. Truth is, I gave that fantasy up long ago. I am a balding, middle-age man, and find myself more and more reaching for my reading glasses. I do not own the latest iPhone. In fact, my current phone was stepped on by a kind gentleman crossing past us to get to his seat at a movie (Big Hero 6); not that I’m bitter. Its glass is cracked, corners chipped, paint scraped, yet I find great satisfaction in knowing it still works and is paid for. How cool is that! iPhones, selfie sticks, flat screens, Snapchats … the list of items craving our attention (and money) is endless. Chasing after “cool” is a never-ending, vicious cycle, leaving us weary in the end. Scripture has a challenging word about such things: It’s not about being cool, but being faithful.
Be honest, our closets are filled with items we had to have, but today collect dust.
The older I get, the more Kingdom focused I become. Time is short! We have a brief span of life through which to run the race set before us, to further the ball down the field, and pass the baton off to a new generation (James 4:14; Hebrews 12:1-3). Sadly, instead of engaging the field, we bench ourselves on the sidelines. We pay others to do missions, we encourage others to teach our children, we turn a blind eye to sin, we complain if things happen we don’t like. At heart, a disciple follows. The question is, “what are you following?”
It all comes down to mission.
Why are you here? Jesus could not be any clearer on the church’s mission: “To seek and save that which is lost.” If we say we are a follower of Jesus, we strive to live and model our life around the things He wills and does. Take a moment to listen to your spiritual heart for a heart-check:
- Does your heart beat for the not-yet-followers of Jesus?
- Do you stay in your holy huddle rather than meet people where they are at?
- How does your life reflect Jesus’ mission?
- As people observe you, can they tell you follow Jesus? Think of your friends … are they Christian? Do they know you are Christian?
- When is the last time you prayed? Read God’s Word? Went to worship? Are these spiritual disciplines a regular habit or practiced as you have time?
- How might you “be” Jesus’ hands and feet in your family, job, or school?
Tough questions, huh? If you are still pulling in air, God isn’t finished with you yet! He has a marvelous plan for you! If you don’t know the love of Jesus, I would love to dialogue with you about it. At every turn are hurting people, struggling just to get by. Yet, we fill our overflowing lives to the brim with stuff, noise, and distractions that numb our hearts to the heartbeat of God. Life is less about what fills our homes and calendars, and more about the people God places in our varied paths. Solomon, the wisest person ever to live, reminds us:
“Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.” (Ecclesiastes 1:10-11)
Everything is meaningless; here today and gone tomorrow. Take. A. Breath. And. Slow. Down. We become consumed with the speck in someone else’s eye while a log hangs from our own (Matthew 7:3-5). I grow weary of the highly critical spirit so prevalent today. Time is fleeting. How are you using the time God has blessed you with for Kingdom impact? Are you seeking to make a difference in the lives of others?
In a letter the apostle Paul wrote to a people and culture saturated with sin, he challenges them to walk an earthshattering, heartbreaking, life-altering path with Jesus. With this backdrop, the book of Romans is born. His words are as true today as they were the day he penned them. Being a disciple is not for the faint of heart, but is a journey paved with sacrifice, humility, and forgiveness. Paul is clear: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) Aim for Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith.
My journey with Jesus is marked with countless moments of joy as well as pieces I never dreamt would fill my life’s story, yet through each page is written one word: Jesus! It is through Jesus, in Jesus, and for Jesus I find purpose and peace. Life does not always go the way we think it should play out. A constant comfort are Jesus’ words: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34) Jesus knew the benefit of tomorrow’s worry is the stealing of today’s joy. So He encourages; let your cares and concerns go, giving them to the sure hands of God. He is “for” you! Period. There is no place that speaks this message more clearly than through our Savior’s sacrifice on the cross. Not only is God with us in our storm, but He’s intentionally placed you within a community of people. I am all the stronger for having journeyed my hills and valleys with others; learning, growing, and celebrating through such moments … together. The writer of Hebrews speaks about it this way:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
Our race has begun, the timer clicking away … one day our race will end. In the meantime, stop trying to be cool—modeling your life after the latest trends—but keep your eyes on Jesus. As we follow Jesus, His focus becomes our mission.
It is time to get off the bench and into the game! After all, God knows the playbook, He created it!
Not cool, but faithful!