Called To Be Different
Now that we can view our work as participating with Christ in his redemption of all creation, now we must ask what work are we called to do, collectively as a community and individually as a follower of Jesus. Prior to thinking about what we are called to do however, I think we need to seriously wrestle with who we are called to be. When we answer this question first the do question will likely naturally follow.
We see this all over Scripture:
Ephesians 4:1 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called
The previous three chapters of Ephesians Paul has outlined for them who they are in Christ. Chapter 4 is the major transition of the letter from who they are called to be to what they are called to do. This statement itself implies that their actions (how they live) should be in line with their identity (who they are).
In Colossians 3 we see the same thing. In a long list of imperatives Paul tells the Colossian believers,
Colossians 3:9–10 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
The reason they ought not lie to one another is based in their new found identity in Christ. They have “put off the old self…and have put on the new self”.
This communicates a vital truth: God doesn’t just want to use you. God first and foremost wants to be with you and fundamentally change you.
If our concept of God is that he only wants to use us instead of enjoy a relationship with us, we will be left with a performance driven concept of attaining God’s approval. What happens is we, then begin to view even work for God (volunteering, giving, attending, church, etc) as efforts to gain his approval. The foundation of our relationship isn’t found in simply who we are as individuals, but it is based in what work God can get out of us.
In this false equation we not only view God’s acceptance of us as contingent upon what we do for him but we also view our acceptance of God as contingent upon what he does for us. This becomes a terribly utilitarian relationship with God. God to us becomes someone to use for our own ends and benefits instead of a loving heavenly Father to enjoy and relate to. We love and serve God, not for who he is but, but solely for what he does for me. Then the moment God stops giving us what we want and life gets hard we run to something or someone else who can provide what we most desire. Sadly, many of us not only approach our relationship with God this way but also our relationships with one another.
This, however, could not be further from the truth. We don’t do good things to earn God’s approval. No! We have been given God’s approval so we do good things. Paramount to God’s call is us being made new, not the work we do for God. Who we become in Christ is more important than what we do for Christ.
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When you consider this concept of being accepted by God simply for who you are, not what you do, how does that give peace and security to rest in him. How does that give you the freedom and safety net to try even risky things for God.