Wednesday, September 14, 2005

a confession of saint/sinner michael

I just finished reading Augustine’s Confessions for class. It is an incredible piece of literature and a phenomenal story of a corrupt, evil man saved by Christ. Throughout most of the book, I thought I had written it last week. Instead, one of our church fathers penned it so long ago. He was a sinner who struggled with self, who struggled with contentment and fulfillment, who struggled with "easy belief-ism" and who struggled with finding who he was. Can anyone else identify with that?

One of the biggest things I took from the book was finding contentment. So many of us, myself included, desire to do great things. Few actually set their sights on being a garbage man (or a Waste Management Professional) or some other “low” goal (not to insult or downplay any man’s vocation). We desire to be “successful” and make a good income and provide for our family. We desire to have a job that is meaningful, fulfilling and challenging. We ALL desire to do something great.

As Christians, we are not exempt from this. We desire to do something great...only we justify it by saying we want to do something great for God. We want to lead thousands to Christ. We want to lead an incredible small group. We want to help in a dynamic, strong youth group. We want to be the founding pastor of the next Saddleback. Do any of us want to be the church janitor, though?

That’s where I am right now. I desire to do something great for God. I want to reach postmoderns for Christ. I want to be involved in an enormously effective and contextualized postmodern church plant. I desire to see Scotland and the entire United Kingdom won to Christ. That’s my great thing. It’s not selfish, is it? I want to see people come to Christ. I want to see God glorified. I want to see great things done, yes, but done for God. Is that bad?

I want to say not, but there is a question continues to haunt me. Would I be content being a janitor or trashman? When I ask myself the question...the answer is no. I don’t want to be a trashman. I don’t want to do what I consider very insignificant. I want to do great things. I want my life to mean something big. I want people to remember me after I’m gone and to talk highly of me..and there’s the rub. My desire for great things for God is really about myself. I want to do great things so I can be perceived as great and worthwhile. I’m sure I’m the only one this applies to, right?

Let me caveat what I am saying with this: I’m not saying that anyone who does anything great is a bad person. I am not saying anything about anyone but myself in this. I’m not a fan of megachurches, but I am not saying any of the leaders in those churches are selfish or have wrong motives.

So what am I saying? I am finding my fulfillment in doing great things instead of in Christ. I am finding worth and value in my desire for greatness instead of in God. I can honestly say that I probably wouldn’t be content (or even consider, for that matter) being a janitor or trashman—even one living a life in total surrender and honor to God. It’s the influx of Western culture and it's idea of fulfillment in my life. It’s the infestation of a Western view of success into my mind. It’s the infection of sin and selfishness in my heart.

I need my idea of success to be re-evaluated. I need my concepts of contentment and fulfillment to be transformed. I need to constantly be presented with the gospel of Christ and allow it to change me, to defeat self (read: me), and to break my heart. I need Jesus to teach me how to be content in humility and humble surroundings and to find my fulfillment in His love for me. I need my Savior to lead me and teach me to be content as a trashman—as one living my life in total surrender and honor to Christ and finding fulfillment in Him alone. Perhaps that is the great thing I need to strive for....

until Christ is formed in us...


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