This morning I was reminded how weak I really am. When I run I try to do them around 6:30, while the sun is still down or 8:00pm after the sun has gone down. I can’t stand the heat, I think I am a northerner stuck in the South, but that’s another story. Today didn’t happen that way. In stead I did a few things at my desk before I took off for my run, which means I didn’t take off till after 9:00. By this time the humidity had set in, and the sun had completely exposed itself. Usually when I run in the morning, five miles does me good to get my day started, when I run in the evening, seven miles takes me to the point of exhaustion so I am ready for a good night sleep. But today, I was defeated at three miles. To some of you, that seems like a lot, some of you are probably cracking up as you read this. But the truth is – I was defeated by mother nature – she beat me! I was humbled, to realize that as much as I work out, grapple, run, eat healthy, compared to mother nature, I am just a blade of grass in her power.
What does that have to do with being a missional person? Good question, after this run my thought pattern began to travel down instinct…I am currently studying the book of Romans, and as many of you know, Paul takes great length to explain the human condition in Romans 1:18-3:20. The human condition is simply a lot like my physical condition. We can attempt to be as moral and spiritual as we want, just as I can attempt to be as physically fit as I want, but sooner or later, I’ll be defeated, and mother nature’s elements will win – or in this case, sin will win. The truth is based on those passages one can’t help but think, we act according to who we are – meaning, our default mode, or our instinct is to revert back to what Paul explains to be the human condition. In other words, we sin because we are sinners, verses, we sin therefore we become sinners. To make it even shorter, we instinctively sin! Kind of like running in the heat and humidity – you may have been able to go longer than me today, or shorter, but bottom line, sooner or later we are over taken by our limitation and mother nature, we are quickly reminded we are mortal. Just like every day, even with a single thought of pride, I am quickly reminded I am a broken human in need of God’s grace.
However, in a couple of days, I will get out there, and try the run again, I will attempt to depend on my physical strength to carry me as far as I can go, but here’s what I know, I am limited, I am mortal. In the world we live in today, we are taught to depend on self: to see how far our moral self can take us; how far our ambitions can take us; to see how far our romantic side can take us; to see how far our intelligence can take us – but this is the root of everything evil – the dependence on self. Adam and Eve believed self, could provide better than God. We trust in self to make it to the top. We believe that if we just try harder, discipline ourselves better, or dream bigger we are limitless, but were not, and how quickly we are reminded of the fact that self is broken. This is our sin instinct, this is our default mode. However, when we look at the world around us, AIDS is still growing at an unprecedented rate, genocides still go on, humble political authorities turn into domineering conquerors, big name preachers fall to infidelity, drug abuse, or simple pride…Why? Because for some reason, over 6,000 years of history doesn’t provide enough proof to us that we can’t do it – whatever ‘it’ is.
God made a remedy for our default mode, and that is the Holy Spirit. The truth is the next characteristic of a missional person is someone who is dependent on the Holy Spirit to live their life for the Glory of God rather than self.
What we must understand is that God the Father sends us the Holy Spirit, not as an experience to make us feel good, not as a promise of prosperity, but as a person, that we are to rely on to the point he completely lives through us so that our lives completely Glory of God!
In Christianity, we have learned how to be successful, prosperous, and become a better self. However often times this comes at the expense of leaning on the Holy Spirit. Why? Often times the Holy spirit is going to take us through things that are anti-self which is what we need, versus, give us stuff that glorifies the self, so that we learn to rely on Him. When we read through the history of Christianity we find people who depended on the Holy Spirit, and I’m not talking about a nice little prayer here and there; a feeling in the worship service, or a tongue here and there. I’m talking about people who ached on the inside, people who longed for the Holy Spirit to be in control of their life, people who were desperate for him:
Like David. About six months ago I was reading through his life, and I came out of one reading, and told Sarah, I think David was a skitso! Often times we turn the characters of the Bible into Moral giants that we are to live like, but the truth is, I am not so sure there are many Old Testament figures that God used mightily that we would want our kids to act like morally, including David. However, the thing about David is that he talks about God in ways that haunt me:
David says things like, “as the deer pants for the water, so my soul thirsts for you…” Though today we have turned this into a cute saying on a coffee cup, David meant it as a statement of life and death. He was saying, “I have been running all day, I am exhausted, I am being chased by myself, and if I don’t drown myself in you God I will die…” How about this one, “…the one thing I as, all that I want is that I may gaze upon the Lord and dwell in his house forever…” This is not normal the normal pop-song to Jesus, rather this almost seems lustful. Rather than a great praise song, this carries the tones of a groom, who has never slept with his bride or seen her naked, and for the first night he sees her, and is so stunned by her beauty that all he wants to do is fix his eyes on her, and stay by here forever. When David writes, you can hear the agony of his soul hurting to be consumed by God. Moses talks like this, Paul talks like this, Augustine, St. Patrick, and how about Brother Lawerance, who said, “I have such delicious thoughts for God that I ashamed to mention…”
What we find in scripture and history is that there have been people who have desired, longed, hurt, and ached for the presence of God, but when I look at myself the question that haunts me is, “why don’t I?” What is it in me that makes me think I have figured out the kingdom, the quite time, how to be culturally relevant or the way to ‘do’ church? Why is that my focus so often? Where is my desperation? Where is my obsession? Where is the mess that happens when the Holy Spirit really takes control, and begins to uproot all that is self?
Here it is: There is a power that we don’t get to control…all we can do is submit to it, and the ones who are really living the kingdom are those who are living this…they are so submitted to the Holy Spirit, that their lives are consumed with him. Because here it is, in all reality, we are never in control, we are either submitted to sin, or to God. To truly be a missional person, we must truly be dependent on the Holy Spirit to live our lives for the Glory of God rather than self!