Much of my life looks, sounds, and feels pretty much like your typical white, suburban, tech-trained family man. Da wife, da kids, da job, da Pack – like so many others. I don’t dress like John the Baptist. I don’t eat like him either. I don’t even put bumper stickers on my car.
So, mostly, I’m pretty ordinary. Except for one overriding factor: I am a Christian. By this, I mean that God stepped into my life, made me a new creature, gave me a new heart, enabled me to see my failings versus His splendor, bore the just penalty for my sin in His death on a cross, rose from the grave to secure peace with God for sinners like me, claimed me as an adopted child, and called me to follow Him in joyful obedience.
Momentous as these realities are, most of my hours and minutes still look like anyone else’s. And then I read 1 Peter 3:15 – “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Sounds great, and rejoicing in the Lord every day, I’m totally ready to give such an answer. But mostly, nobody’s asking. How do I point to Jesus when nobody’s asking for directions?
My recommendation: follow Jesus.
Too trite? How about this expanded version: live in close communion with Jesus, filled by His Holy Spirit, finding in Him your one inexhaustible wellspring of joy, and then just do as He says. He has things in mind for each of us (Ephesians 2:10). Simply following Him in this way will result in changes in your life that cannot be properly explained except with reference to Jesus. Then, when someone notices the odd things God has called you into, your answer (and mine) can be a simple one: “Because of Jesus!”
Because of Jesus, I am a member of Waukesha City Church. This means my life is bound together with the rest of our membership, and even more deeply bound to a small group of them, our Community Group. These people are on my mind all week long as I pray for them, and as their life situations are being shared with me and others in person, by email, and through social media.
The church is not a club. The church is a community of God’s people, an embassy of Heaven, a strategic outpost in the Savior’s invasion of an enemy planet. As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He tied the world’s willingness to believe in Him to our loving commitment to each other (John 17:20-23). We are the sheep of His pasture, and our peace and unity attest to the Shepherd’s caring skill (Ezekiel 34, Psalms 23 and 95, Mark 6:34, Hebrews 13:20-21, and Revelation 7:17).
Our heart-to-heart commitment to a local church is foundational since we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and was raised again (2 Cor 5:15). This reality flavors the way we live out our individual callings. For instance, Mike and Stacy Creech were called to be missionaries to West Africa, so we as a church have sent them out for this task and committed to supporting them every step of the way.
Church membership is foundational, but it’s only the beginning of the inexplicable things God will call you to do. Are you ready to do as He says?
If God calls you to missionary work, will you do it? If so, every time you’re asked why you’d take the gospel to distant parts of the world, let’s tell ‘em, “Because of Jesus.”
If a coworker, friend, or family member invites you to participate in an unsavory, illicit, or illegal activity, don’t just say “no” – say “No, thank you – because of Jesus.” Then let the questions come, and don’t be shy (Romans 1:16).
And if difficulties or even real persecutions come, treat it as joyful worship to be mistreated and maligned (James 1:2-4), but still strive to explain that this inexplicable distinctive in your life all stems from your joy in being saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), who has made a way for you to fulfill our highest purpose – reflecting His glory as children of God (Ephesians 2:10, I John 3:1-2, John 1:12-13).
Your brother forever – because of Jesus!
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