My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. I follow the readings and journaling from lifejournal.me. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Do Not Shrink
“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.
(Acts 20:25 NASB)
“Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
(Acts 20:26 NASB)
“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
(Acts 20:27 NASB)
Paul was saying his farewell to the people of Ephesus. He had
come to love these people who had become his congregation. They were
now followers of Jesus Christ because of his zeal and desire for them to
know about the kingdom. So intent was he that he was able to say that
he was innocent of the blood of all men. In other words, he had been so
faithful in preaching the word to everyone that he was not guilty for
those who did not respond. He had provided them with an opportunity
because he didn't shrink from declaring the whole purpose of God.
What was the whole purpose of God? It goes back to Paul's
understanding of the kingdom. God's purpose is for his children to be
full-fledged members of the kingdom. The kingdom is a place where God's
transformed people live out their lives while still here on this earth,
not living as people of this earth, but as people of the kingdom. And
Paul was not ashamed to preach this whole purpose!
Sometimes I wonder whether we find it convenient these days to shrink
from preaching the whole purpose of God, for God doesn't call us simply
to a life of being "saved." Instead, he calls us to a radically
transformed life with kingdom citizenship. The demands of this life are
much greater than what most people would want to accept. I believe
that for the most part people want a simple Christianity -- one that
makes them feel good on Sundays -- and a devotional life that is about
as short as the drive through the Starbuck's drive-up window line. Then
we think that we are good to go -- but we are not. And if in any way,
shape or form we have been advocating this type of Christianity -- or
rather, kingdom life, then we are shrinking. Paul didn't mince words
and he didn't always make people happy but he challenged people to
understand God's whole purpose and his whole purpose was radically
different from anything they had experienced. His message reached to
the heart of peoples' daily lives and evidently had such an impact on
the citizenry of Ephesus that it changed the local economy. Now, that's
I am challenged by Paul's statement that he is "innocent of the blood
of all men." I believe that means that daily Paul didn't shrink from
his calling. Everywhere he went he shared about Jesus Christ and no one
would be able to blame Paul for not giving them an opportunity to enter
the kingdom. Now that really sets me back and I wonder how many times I
have shrunk from an opportunity. How many people have I sat next to an
individual on an airplane and they would never know that I'm a Christ
follower? Sometimes I envy the Catholics because they wear this garb
that lets the world know that they are priests or nuns or monks -- but
the world knows. Somehow we protestants travel incognito. The other
day a priest was on the flight and I noticed he spent the whole time
reading his Bible. I believe that his posturing simply became an
invitation for anyone to speak to him about spiritual matters. Do I do
that? Or do I blend in with the world to the point that I shrink from
my responsibility? When I travel I preach from and read from the ipad
-- but that hides even more the fact that I'm reading the word!
I don't want to shrink from what God would desire for me to do in the
kingdom. I don't want to allow people around me to be lost simply
because I've never shown them the way. I want to preach the full
purpose of the kingdom and I want to be a part of a kingdom community
that embraces the challenge to live life radically in the fullness of
the spirit. There can no longer be business as usual. Paul gave
everything he had to the people in Ephesus while he served there. May I
pour out myself in service to where God has placed me today, tomorrow
and in the days to come. I will not shrink!
Lord, may your Holy Spirit empower me not to shrink from your calling. Amen.