In my recent interactions with Christian collegians, I have been struck with how spiritually dull, vague, intrepid, and self-serving many of them are. It seems that the majority is consumed with their fulfillment, their future, and how they feel. Coupled with this self-absorption is a rather dull vagueness about the future and how they hope to muddle through it. Whats missing is clear thinking, a sense of mission, courage, and an air of optimism that God has a plan for their lives.
Recently, in meditating through the Book of Mathew, I was stopped dead in my tracks by Jesus Gethsemane experience. In His time of agony the night before the cross, two powerful dynamics unfolded:
Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to stay with Him in prayer. The reason? "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Matt. 26:38). Sorrowful and troubled, He needed them to be with Him in His hour of darkness (Matt. 26:37). Tragically, their pampered desire for sleep took precedence over their willingness to minister to Him. Imagine: They indulgently slept through the prayer meeting that was to prepare them and Christ for the two greatest events in human history: The cross and the resurrection.
The disciples slothful dullness and their subsequent cowardice relative to Jesus arrest, trial, and death reveals their callow spiritual condition, which is analogous to the state of modern day Christianity (the Christian collegians?) and its stark contrast to Christs Gethsemane experience of selfless obedience to the Fathers will. Their cowardly response to the authorities is directly linked to their lack of spiritual discipline at Gethsemane with Jesus. Little wonder He instructed them, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Matt. 26:41).
Jesus fell with his face to the ground and prayed,my Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matt. 26:39). In that one statement Jesus summarizes His mission in life: Obedience to the Fathers will, whatever the cost. And that is to be our life mission as well.
This is significant for us today because in this era of self-centered, experience orientated, narcissistic Christianity, Jesus calls us to a life that includes sacrifice, suffering, and obedience for His Kingdom and Glory:
Weare heirsof God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His gloryWe must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Rom. 8:17b; Act. 14:22b). (See 1 Cor. 4:9-13; 2 Tim. 2:3, 9, 10; 3:12).
QUESTION: Have you settled the fact that the life of a disciple is not about meeting your narcissistic needs, rather, it is primarily about living for His Kingdom and glory? If you are struggling in this area, what practical action steps do you need to be taking now to turn the tide?
This week may you experience His grace, peace and protection.
R. Dwight Hill