Sunday, May 29, 2011

Finding Your Place

Do you remember being a kid and having someone ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you remember your answer? We could all probably list any number of different things that we once wanted to be. A little boy might say that he wants to be a fireman or an astronaut. A young girl might say that she wants to be a ballerina or a doctor. All of us dreamed of being something exciting and significant. We wanted to make a difference and be a part of something that mattered. Nobody really ever dreamed of being average. We had big dreams for ourselves and the sky was the limit.

As followers of the Lord, we also aspire to great things. Many of us want to take the gospel to the nations and see multitudes meet the Lord. We read the stories of Peter, Ruth, Corrie Ten Boom, Noah, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others and we want to have an impact like they did. Some want to write a song that touches millions and some want to start an orphanage in a remote African village. We all want to be a part of something significant and meaningful. None of us wants to live our lives in mediocrity and die one day never having tapped into the potential God put on our lives.

Having these great desires is the easy part, but most of us struggle with where to start. I have personally dealt with this, and I have observed many that desired to make a difference, but never really knew how to get going. Many of us have wasted precious time not doing anything because we weren't sure what to do. We believe the Lord has given us all an individual purpose and destiny. We know that we are unique and that nobody can do what we are called to do quite like we can. But again, how do we start?

One one hand, this is a very complex question, because everybody's path is going to be unique and individual. However, on the other hand, I believe the answer to this question is simple because, even though we have individual purposes, our general purpose is the same. We are called by the Lord to know Him, become like Him and do the works He did. We won't all do these works the exact same way someone else will, but our general purpose is to do what Jesus did. To make it simple and practical, we are called to do what Jesus would do if He were in our shoes. There was a movement several years ago called "WWJD," which stood for "What Would Jesus Do?" Millions of people wore bracelets, T-shirts and had bumper stickers that said "WWJD?" These items don't seem to be as common anymore, but this is a question that we need to ask ourselves all over again.

What would Jesus do? What would He do if He lived in your neighborhood? What would He do if He worked where you work? What would He do if He drove the same streets you drive or ate at your favorite restaurant? What would Jesus do if He were in our place? Jesus is obviously not here in the same way he was 2,000 years ago, but if He were, I believe He would do today just what He did then. Let us examine some of His own words and see what He did. Near the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus said:

God's Spirit is upon Me; He's chosen Me to preach the message of good news to the poor, sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!" (Luke 4:18-19, The Message).

That is how Jesus defined His earthly ministry, and these same acts are what we are called to do today. We are His representatives in our individual spheres of influence. What would He do if He were in our place today? All it takes is a brief study of His earthly life to see that He would be down the street helping the elderly widow trim her hedges. He would take a bag of school supplies to the single mother who can't afford to buy them for her children. He would prepare a meal for the homeless family that lives under the bridge just outside of town. These are the places we would find Him. He might be volunteering His time at a battered women's shelter, helping a young man with his math homework at an inner city after-school program or maybe organizing a clothing drive to help those left destitute by the recent tornadoes.

When Jesus was here in the natural, He had very little time for the self-righteous and the legalistic. Instead, He regularly withdrew to spend time with His Father, trained and taught His disciples and then He would be somewhere getting His hands dirty. He lived His life in sacrifice for other people, and in doing so, He fulfilled His purpose. How do you and I find our places? We look around in our spheres of influence, and then we get involved. There is an old saying that it is easier to steer a moving ship then it is to start one moving initially. Whatever our individual purposes and destinies are, we can be sure the Lord will lead us into them as we begin to do what He would do if He were in our shoes. I came across this video clip recently. I was really inspired by it, and I think it will inspire you, too. This is Bono, the lead singer of U2, accepting an award from the NAACP. He really has some great things to say. Check it out and then let's you and I get involved.

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