First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives:

In case you ever wondered about what your purpose is for life on earth (and most likely you have) it may well be summed up in this phrase--"To know God and make Him known."

Sounds simple enough but those seven words define the life purpose of every human being that has ever or will ever walk upon this earth.

However, unless God becomes 'THE' Priority of our life, then the life practice of making Him known will never become a reality. That may well help explain why so many who profess Christianity as their way of life never practice the life of Christ in their life with any consistency.

Billy Graham once said this concerning the life purpose of a follower of Christ --"as long as we are on this earth, God's purpose is for us to bring honor and glory to Him by the way we live." That life practice will always come with a cost to anyone who follows Jesus in a world that opposes Him. Being different than the world around you will 'thin the ranks' of the congregation or the crowd that follows with selfish motives in mind While the cost of deciding to deny self and follow Jesus comes with a high cost, the reward for doing so is higher and far more enduring. Statements such as that are not often or easily heard by those suffering from the malady of spiritual deafness. Being hard of hearing spiritually soon leads to being hardened in the heart making fruitfulness non-existent. That is especially the case with those who come to settle for mediocrity in ministry. The 'magnet of mediocrity' continues to pull many away from God's best and God's blessing, most from within the ranks of the redeemed. All the while, the adversary gains ground in the mind/heart of those who choose to slacken in their passion to pursue righteousness that strives toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Lest anyone misunderstand, we don't work to gain His blessing and we don't work to keep it. Our 'work' is the outflow of the inflow of His continuing consecrative work in us. Mediocrity undermines that foundation. Mediocrity is simply choosing to settle or be satisfied with average. And average has been best defined as the best of the worst and the worst of the best. Neither is acceptable to God who gave His all for us and by grace continues to offer His best for us.

Many who strive for excellence daily in secular work are often too easily satisfied with slacking in their commitment to the spiritual work we, as believers have been assigned by our Lord.

The 'magnet of mediocrity' has a strong pull on every one of us but it never honors God. Never! Mediocrity does not bring glory to God. At its source, the mindset of mediocrity stands in contradiction to everything God provided for us through the submission, service and sacrifice of His only begotten Son. Therefore, in settling for mediocrity, my life purpose is either denied or not discovered so long as I remain satisfied with being unwilling to count the cost of following Christ and coasting in my loosely defined journey of faith.

Issac D'Israel once said of mediocrity--"it is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when excellence lies before us." I pray that God's work in us effectively causes spiritual mediocrity to leave a lingering bad taste in our mouth. So much so that we quit tasting of it altogether.

Thomas Paine, the American patriot in 1776 stated--"What we obtain to cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated."

History records that our freedom to work and worship came at an extremely high cost to the founding fathers.

His story, the Bible records that our freedom to know God and serve God came at an extremely high cost to Jesus in releasing us from the penalty of sin, death and hell through redemption.

What cost could possibly be so high that we would not gratefully embrace in response?

The story is told of civil war confederate commander, Robert E. Lee about the loving influence of his mother and how her teaching helped him learn submission and humility. We know that General Lee, like many others endured great hardship during those costly civil war years. Yet, through it all his self-denial met every demand he faced. His life was epitomized in one statement in the Book he read often that said, 'if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.' (Luke 9:23) Never was that more on display than on a rainy morning in October in Northern Virginia, (most likely while on his last visit) when a young mother brought her baby to General Lee to be blessed. Lee took the infant in his arms and looked at it. Then that old confederate commander who had endured so much over the years looked at the baby's mother and slowly said, 'teach him he must deny himself.'

Therein lies life's greatest lesson for it is and remains the only way that anyone may know God and make Him known.

History records that General Robert Edward Lee ended up on the losing side of the American civil war, but he was not a loser, by any standard of measure that endures eternally.

The worldly minded may define those who choose to deny self and follow Christ wholeheartedly in much the same way but in the end, it's those who love what they can't keep and settle for being satisfied with it that are the real loser.

Jesus has won the war! And He offers the victory that goes with to anyone willing to count the cost of denying themselves! Learn, as you live in the word to deny yourself, daily. You'll be the winner that God designed to strive for excellence in the things that will endure!

God's best,

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36