“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV).
As I write this post, we are officially coming to the end of a decade. A decade that has seen me go from a somewhat awkward middle schooler to a somewhat less awkward college student. One that has seen me get my license, vote for the first time, and accomplish some of the goals on my very long bucket list. Most importantly, it has been a decade that has helped me grow deeper in my faith—and sink deeper into God. And that’s what I want to talk about in this end-of-the-year post.
We live in a culture that is consumed with doing. That is all about doing more, achieving more, and making more. That is consumed by doing all the things. And if I’m bluntly honest, I’m just as guilty as the next person—I enjoy setting goals and achieving them. There’s something satisfying about working hard to achieve your dreams. And there’s nothing wrong with this when it is done in a healthy way. However, as Christians, we are called to something far greater. Something countercultural that our soul truly longs for.
You see, in this world, the emphasis is on doing. But in the Bible, God tells us that our focus should be on being.
Just take a look at John 15:1-8 (MSG) to see what I’m talking about.
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
As Christians before we do anything for God, we must first remain in God. We cannot be effective ministers of the Gospel and chase after the dreams God has placed in our heart without first chasing after God. The more I reflect on the meaning of ministry and how to be an effective witness for Christ, the more I come back to this simple truth. We must be deeply, and passionately rooted in God before we can reach the nations for God.
We must remain in His love, growing deeper in it with each passing year. (John 15:9).
We must remember who He says we are—that He has called us sons and daughters of the King. (2 Corinthians 6:18).
We must know God’s heart and understand on a personal level His love for humanity (John 3:16).
This is not to say that doing will never happen, but being must always come first. Because as Christians, the good works that we do should flow organically from a heart that is fully connected to Jesus. When we recognize God’s heart for His people, we cannot help but respond. I saw a video recently by Lindy Cofer through a Brave Love study online where she was talking about how as Christians, our hands are to be connected to the heart of Jesus.* There is something powerful about this very vivid visual. Because as Christians, we can do nothing without Christ. And unless we are fully connected to His love for us, and for this world, our words will simply be empty noise—void of any true influence.
Just take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) for further proof of this.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Even spiritual gifts, generosity, and giving our very life for the sake of the Gospel are nothing if we are not motivated by a love that comes directly from remaining in Christ’s love. Because in the end, when it’s all said and done, all God really wants from us—all He truly desires from us, is our whole heart. To know us intimately. To have a relationship with us. To love us with an everlasting, otherworldly kind of love.
This New Year, let our top resolution be not one of ‘doing’ but of ‘being’. Let us continue to sink deeper into Jesus. Let us have hearts fully open and surrounded to God. And let us let that love change us, so that we can change the world.
And if you don’t know this love, there’s no better time to get to know it than the present.
Dear Lord, we thank you for this year. We thank you for the challenges, which have grown us, and we thank you for the blessings, which you have given us. We pray that you would work in and through our hearts and use us as vessels for your love, your grace, and your mercy. We pray that we would remember that ‘it is finished’ and that there is nothing we can do to make you love us more or less. Help us to rest in that grace, that love, and that freedom. And let us be voices declaring that freedom to all those who still have yet to hear it and accept it. We pray all of those things in your mighty, powerful, incredible name, amen!
*In case you’re interested, I’m posting the link to this course here. It’s 100% free and it’s really good!