Project I AM

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

How do you truly begin to see lives changed for Christ? This is the question Ive asked myself for the last few weeks. I mean, are people really being effected by the gospel in our communities? I guess the very heart of my question is this….What exactly does a real follower of Christ look like? Well, the simple answer is that they look like Jesus. But how do we as the church look like Jesus? If we think of most churches in our country, we think of Sunday morning services, Wednesday evening suppers, with a few missional and community outreach activities sprinkled in that are more focused on making sure we have fun and are entertained in the work process.

But if we must be somewhat entertained or catered too in order for us to give of ourselves, then how do our actions reflect the servant heart of Christ? If the center of Jesus message to his disciples was to show love to those in need, then why do many Churches seem to cater more to those within their own congregations than to the lost world around them? It boils down to how much of ourselves we are willing to give to Christ.

“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30.

We can be so selfish in our servanthood. Its almost as if we have heard scripture so often that the word of God has just lost its meaning to us. A true picture of a church living for Christ is one of servanthood, with no benefit in it for ourselves. No rewards needed. No recognition needed. To just go where there is a need and be the hands and feet of Jesus for no other reason than glorifying God with our actions. Can you imagine if every Christian had this mind-set? It may sound radically far-fetched to some. But the frightening reality is that this is biblically what a true follower of Christ should look like, because that is what Christ looked like.

I had to ask myself, “How is it that Christ gave so much, yet I at times am content in my salvation to give so little?” If I am serious about the life commitment I made in giving my life to Christ, then servanthood should be paramount! I actually dont think we mean to be selfish most of the time. Its just that we become so complacent and routine in our individual walks with the Lord. Its hard to think outside the box when we spend most of our time thinking about how we can better what we already have in the box. That is why the word of God is so important in our lives. So that we constantly see the example of the disciples, and the marching orders of Christ. One of the most dangerous tactics that Satan uses on modern day churches is complacency.

We need to always ask and examine ourselves in the reflection of scripture to see if we are active as the body of Christ. Are we giving freely the gift that has been given to us? Or are we selfishly hiding our light from the rest of the world?

God really got my attention recently in my own life. A faithful church member here at our church in Avon Park gave a generous financial gift to my budget to be used to aid First Baptist Church in kingdom work. I thought of many ideas like building a weight room for the church, maybe buying some couches and comfy chairs for the youth building, or maybe plan a fun trip for the youth. As I drove home from church one afternoon, I began to recall a conversation I had with one of our members. This lady and her husband are disabled and unable to do very much. She had told me that their house was in pretty bad shape as well as their yard due to the fact that they are unable to do much physically.

I remember thinking,”It sure would be nice if there were someone to help them with their yard work from time to time.” And like a bolt of lightning, God spoke to my heart……”Why not you?”

Here I was, a man whose profession is ministry, overlooking the obvious answer pertaining to how I may best serve Christ with my given resources. And the answer is apparent everywhere. What is our purpose as Christians? It is to reach the lost! It is to preach the gospel! It is to be the hands and feet to those in need! Remember what Jesus told his twelve disciples before he sent them out?

“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received;  freely give.” Matthew 10:7-8.

Taking care of ourselves and those within the body of Christ is fine. As long as our needs are not primary, and the needs of the outside world around us come first! A new weight room at the church would have been great! A fun youth trip would have been a blast. And comfy new furniture would have been very nice. But in the end, how am I better equipping the church to be the true body of Christ!

I love the song by Casting Crowns, “If We Are the Body.” The chorus of the song says, “But if we are the body, why aren’t His arms reaching? Why aren’t His hands healing? Why aren’t His words teaching? And if we are the body,why aren’t His feet going? Why is His love not showing them there is a way? Jesus is the way.”

If churches are to be the body of Christ, then why are so many of them sitting still? Jesus told his disciples to go. To me, if I were to sum up what Jesus expects of the church in one word, it would be “Go!!!” Jesus sent them into the world not to make sure that they had a comfortable worship experience. I dont recall a passage of scripture where Jesus equips them with resources so that they could make their church more alluring with fun trips and a country club atmosphere.

When did our society’s perception of church turn into it being such a novelty act? If we as believers begin to buy into the mind set that we need to spend the majority of our resources on things other than the gospel to draw people in, then we are basically telling Jesus that He is not enough. We are telling him that his sacrifice on the cross is lacking.

So we are beginning a new ministry here at First Baptist in Avon Park. Our project is to be intentionally about missions, or Project I AM. The purpose of Project I AM is to become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in our communities and the nations. It’s one thing to speak the word of God, its quite another to actually live it. Project I AM is an opportuity for us to give freely of our time and resources to others around us in need.

Jesus always said things like: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” and “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Jesus teaches that we should ignore the way that the world saves and invests in itself and instead, pour our lives into those around us. Jesus teaches that our dependence should be on the LORD and His provision for us. And if we are indeed in Him and about his mission, he will take care of our needs. He didnt say he would take care of our wants. Because our wants place our eyes more on ourselves rather than serving others.

And Jesus spoke about money for sure. He talked about money more than Heaven and Hell combined. The only thing Jesus talked about more than money was the Kingdom of God. Eleven out of thirty nine parables speak on money. One out of every seven verses in the Gospel of Luke talk about money.  But not in a way that it was important to have much of, instead that it was something to give away to those that are in need.

You see, we miss the real point of blessings. And because we of this many rarely experience a true blessing from God. The world equates prosperity with blessings. It equates materialism with blessings. Many of the largest churches gain their notoriety with this prosperity gospel. Claiming that if you are blessed, you possessions will reflect on this. But they have overlooked what the very God they claim to be worshiping says about who is blessed.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful,  for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:5-8.

I challenge you as I am currently challenging myself to look at the world through more as more of a servant. Because the blessings that God will bestow to you in your obedience to him, and in giving your life in service to others is awesome. If you dont like servanthood now, then you wont like eternity. Because such is the kingdom of Heaven!

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