Monday, December 21, 2020

An Everlasting Invitation

An Everlasting Invitation

You're a Hero of the Faith

    Have you ever thought of yourself as a potential Peter or possibly a Paul? How about a Martin Luther or a Martin Luther King or any of the other heroes of faith who have emerged over the years? If not, then why not? 

    Does the idea of being like one of these folks seem too far reaching... too lofty? Then what about Stephen? He wasn't an apostle or a priest. He was just a waiter who somehow managed to turn his city upside down. People like him represent people like you in me when they find their true identity in Christ.

    None of these people were anomalies or special exceptions, but were simply those who humbly answered the call before them. While we will each have our unique expression of his light, we've all been called to humble ourselves and accept the same invitation and commission.

Bold Humility

    While, like us, these people often found themselves in dark, seemingly futile times, they rose up boldly in humility shining their light in the darkness. While this seems a contradiction, humility holds lowliness and boldness in tension together. 

    While humility begins with a sober view of our natural position, humility is also the springboard for God to work through us—our call to be his light in darkness (Mt 5:16). Humility is not merely about deference to His position, it also recognizes the power and promise of his redemptive work through the Gospel.

    When we act in bold humility, it becomes apparent that what we accomplish could only have been sourced from his all-surpassing power, and not from ourselves (2 Co 4:17). 

    This is the grace he gives to the humble (Pr 3:34, Ja 4:6, 1 Pe 5:5) which was exemplified through the prayer and actions of the disciples in Acts 4:24-31. Check it out!

False Humility

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (Ja 4:10 ESV).

    People often misperceive humility as merely the action of not calling attention to themselves. This partially correct, but incomplete view convinces us that it is safer, and even more holy to allow darkness to remain the status quo.

    If we humble ourselves without the intention and purpose of letting the Lord lift us up, we're not operating in true humility. Again, the disciples humbled themselves before the Lord, expecting that He would lift them up and that he would stretch forth his hand to heal through them, and He did (Acts 4:24-31).

    False humility subtly convinces us that putting ourselves in a position for the Lord to lift us up is being prideful and even arrogant. It does not understand the true meaning of grace.

Grace (charis)

5485 (x├íris) ... preeminently used of the Lord's favor – freely extended to give Himself away to people (because He is "always leaning toward them”). Copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc.

    Grace is the extension of himself towards us. It is more than simply a heavenly "thumbs up," where God lets us know that he likes us. Grace means that God extends who he is for our benefit. It is the ongoing incarnation, Immanuel... God with us. It's what made Peter, Paul, Luther, and all those heroes of the faith spring into action.

    When we humble ourselves, it is the power of grace which lifts us up, which is why scholars sometimes translate the word grace (charis) as "gifts," as in “gifts of healing” (1 Co 12:28, 31). Paul, our New Testament authority on grace, encouraged us to desire these gifts, or graces—all in the context of love, that they would build up the Body of Christ so that we can all be at our best (1 Co 13:1-13; 14:1-40). 

    Humility is the lowering of ourselves so that we can be obedient to the call before us, just as Mary did when she responded to the angel saying, “… I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38 ESV). 

Invitation: Be All You Can Be — Shine!

    The U.S. recruiting effort found the right words when it urged young volunteers to “Be All You Can Be!” That is the call for us today, just as it was in Paul’s time. If you’ve had enough of the darkness around you, remind yourself of this promise in Isaiah:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Is 60:1-3 NIV)

    At its core, faith revolves around believing in God's character and nature and that he is true to his word. Faith expressed, is believing that his plan works for all believers—including you and me—not a select few. Each one of us has the potential and is invited to be all we can be because OUR light has come!

We Hold the Hope

    Christ in us is the hope of glory (Col 1:27) and so we are invited to ditch futility and false humility so that we might shine in the midst of the darkness around us. 

    Do you feel like you’re in darkness? Then exercise humility, putting your faith in his promise that those who seek will find (Mt 7:7). We must each abandon unbelief and believe that the fullness of the Gospel is not just for some special others, but is for all of us. We've all been invited to walk in the light, just as he is in the light (1 Jn 1:7).