There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 16:25
So much of what we give ourselves to seems right. What if it’s not?
We invest time and energy pursuing what seems right, anticipating that if we can attain what seems right for us, we will achieve happiness, contentment, peace. What if it doesn’t?
One of the things I am really aware of these days as a leader in the church is how many earnestly believing people who carry the name “Christian” are working so hard to do what seems right. And it’s killing them!
So much of what we spend our time pursuing is not driven by the goal of the Kingdom of God. Yet we boldly proclaim that Jesus is our King. “Long live the King!” we cry out. Yet we rarely seek His leadership as we pursue what seems right.
Is it possible that the things that seem right to us will lead to a dead end?
God is clear. Ultimately, any pursuit that does not flow from the Kingdom of God dies. The Kingdom of God alone endures forever.
Why would we not, therefore, live our life intentionally centered on the Kingdom’s goal? Why would we not drop our pursuit of what seems right to us in favor of the way of the Kingdom?
Caesar Kalinowski writes in The Gospel Primer,
I want to suggest that the secret to increasingly living our lives on mission is to move from seeing a gospel-centered mission as something “additional” that needs to be tacked on to life, to seeing all the normal stuff and rhythms of life as full of opportunity for gospel. We need only to fill them with greater “gospel intentionality.” [By the very power of the Holy Spirit] we move from an additional mindset to an intentional mindset in the normal rhythms of life that God has given us.
We have one life to live. If we are determined to live out our American Dream version of life while attempting to add in God’s version of life at the same time, it will never work. This is what leads to burnout and frustration [and hypocrisy] in the Christian life. (pg. 179)
Americans are masters of “adding on.” American Christians are adept at adding the Kingdom onto their pursuit of what seems right. It is not working. And here’s the really disturbing thing: when we realize that it’s not working, most of us drop the Kingdom in favor of continuing to pursue what seems right.
What would it look like to invert that? What does “gospel intentionality” look like in real time?
Here’s a four-step dance that helps grow intentionality. Let’s join Jesus on His mission and begin to “see all the normal stuff and rhythms of life as full of opportunity for gospel.” Here’s how!
Commit to Living in Community
Nothing is more powerful and enriching than a community of people following Jesus and joining Him in His mission in the world. The Lord never intended for His followers to live isolated, insular lives, but together……centered in Jesus, focused on mission. He intended for community to be a place where new believers and discipling relationships are the norm and not the exception. His intention is that living in community would help us own our journey with Jesus. His intention is that we would support each other as we learn what it means to follow Jesus in the world. Community was never intended just for our own benefit or entertainment. True biblical community is lived together, for the sake of others.
Who is supporting you as you try to follow Jesus? Who are you supporting as they try to follow Jesus?
Do What He Gives You To Do
I don’t get ripped by watching my P90X DVD. I don’t establish a healthier financial future by listening to audio tapes in my car. I won’t eat healthier by consulting with a Dietician. And, I won’t be a better parent by reading a book on parenting.
Putting knowledge into responsive action is mandatory for transformation.
Following Jesus is not a passive venture. Yet, many “Christians” seem to think that this is a non-participatory institution. If your time with Jesus does not nudge you to respond in some way, something is wrong. It’s really as simple as that. Activate a response.
What is God leading YOU to DO today in response to His Word? Can you name it? What’s your resistance? How does His nudge run contrary to what seems right in your own eyes? Ask Him for strength and courage to act in obedience, and live!
Ask Someone You Trust to Hold You Accountable
As with anything else in life, we need others to spur us on. We need friends to check in, to cheer us on, to remind us. The need for trusted people who will encourage and challenge us in our faith journey is vital.
Recently in our lifeGroup we shared our observations in a round robin email as we carried out an assignment that was given to us. Simple–powerful.
Who is holding you to your commitments? Who is reminding you? Who is checking in? Who is praying for you? Who is asking you the tough questions? What forum are you using to share your stories as you respond?
Gathering with the the rest of the Body of Christ to receive a personal Word from God in Word and Sacrament is crucial for gospel intentionality. Without worship, we are left to what seems right.
How have you seen this four-step dance stimulate “gospel intentionality” in your life rhythm?