Are We Backwards?

After an extended sabbatical from the blogging world, I’m glad to say that I’m back. ‘Nuff said.

But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Exodus 4:10-12 (ESV)

My sister headed back to college life today, much like many other students across the country. Our house served as a giant storage unit for her and her out-of-state friends this summer, so sorting through the piles of unnecessary “stuff” (it’s unnecessary because it clearly wasn’t necessary for survival all summer, otherwise it wouldn’t be at our house) became the hefty task of the day. Despite all the items being boxed and labeled meticulously, things were bound to get lost in the return. And they did.

Sure enough, about an hour after my sister left for school, I received a phone call. “Brian, do you see a suitcase sitting around?” My thoughts: A suitcase? An ENTIRE suitcase? How could you misplace something that large? But, being the good brother that I am, I searched for but did not find it––no such suitcase existed in the Chang household. In the midst of the traumatic experience of moving back to college, my sister managed to misplace an entire suitcase of seemingly important stuff.

A Misplaced Priority
I’ve often wondered, though, if we’ve misplaced our priorities as believers as well. Right now, there are thousands of brilliant, talented, and gifted students moving their belongings back to school, shuffling through pages of course material and purchasing books for their classes. All of them have unique abilities––financially, academically, musically, intellectually––that will be used to make money in this world, to help further society. They are primed and focused, ready to learn and be equipped further in order to use those abilities for whatever the world calls them to do.

Yet for many Christian students, serving in the church or furthering the Kingdom of God only occurs out of convenience:

  • We attend churches that are in the area and leave that church when it’s time to move home; we wouldn’t even dream of driving a long distance to go to church, much less move there.
  • We serve God once a month, filling the quota of what we think a good Christian should do, but not overdoing it because there are other priorities at school that we need to fulfill.
  • We spend hours a day honing our talents and preparing them to be successful in the “real world,” using only our leftover time to build up the church, to evangelize, or care for the needy.

But are we backwards? Aren’t we supposed to use our God-given abilities for the Kingdom of God first and foremost?

Moses’ Excuse
In Exodus 4:10-12, we see a drastically different perspective from God. Moses is trying to make excuses for why he shouldn’t be called to serve the Lord, why he isn’t the man God is really looking for to deliver His people from Israel. He’s standing before the burning bush, a blatant manifestation of our Triune God himself, and yet he regards his own priorities as more important than God’s agenda. After a few earlier excuses, Moses tells God that he doesn’t have the ability to speak, to lead His people.

But just as his other excuses didn’t succeed, this one doesn’t either. For every excuse Moses had, God responded with signs of power and authority. With this lame excuse, God’s still not impressed (and neither is Makayla). His response? I created you! I brought you into existence! I have given you everything you need to complete what I’ve called you to! Your mouth was created for the sole purpose of serving me and leading my people! 

God shows himself as the sovereign Creator.

The Backward-ness
It breaks my heart when college students take their God-given abilities and use them to chase the temporal pleasures of this world––they chase high paying jobs, well-respected professions, and material wealth. All the while, they fail to realize that their gifts were given to them for the purpose of glorifying God, not themselves. There’s a logical flow to God’s divine design: 1) He created us and gave us gifts and abilities (Gen. 2), 2) He commands us to glorify Him in all that we do (1 Cor. 10:31), therefore 3) We should use our gifts to glorify Him. Any other use is a perversion of what God intended.

There’s a backwards view of the Lord that runs rampant in our churches. We often think that we’ve been blessed with specific abilities that are meant for outside the church, and whatever is left over of our time or energy goes to help the church. But that’s backwards. We were blessed by God, with abilities for the church, for the common good of believers, and for the Kingdom of God (not our own!). Serving the Lord isn’t an extracurricular activity that we put on our resume, no, serving the Lord is the God-ordained purpose of our gifts and talents because He has purchased us with the blood of Christ on the cross. This reality is much more glorious than any other use of our gifts in this world, or the temporal satisfactions that this world offers us.

So my hope is that as you pack your things and head off to school, as you sit in class and converse with your friends, you would remember who Created you. Remember who has formed, from nothing, everything about you: your mind, your family, your friends, and especially your salvation. Remember who has saved you and equipped you to serve His kingdom, not your own, and I pray that you will make sacrifices in this world in order to get straight what you’d had backwards all this time.

bc

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