Friday, November 14, 2014

Selfless Selfishness

copyright Exponential.org, October 2014
Yes, we're still milking thoughts from the Exponential West 2014 conference.  There's a lot the get us thinking and meditating.  We're just getting into the third and final day.  And remember, I was watching the web stream, which didn't include the smaller sessions.

Just to give a feel for the experience, the image at the top is from one of the Main Stage sessions of this conference.  As you can see, there was a good sized audience.  Whether you agree with all the theological stances or all the things that were said, it's good to see that many people gathered to learn how better to spread the Gospel.  As we begin today's post, we're going to start by jumping back a bit, to some things that Jeff Vanderstelt shared.  We already included one of his quotes in our first post in this series.  There are a couple more that we can't miss.

As a refresher, we said in the original post in this series, "Pastor Jeff Vanderstelt ... suggested that we talk about what we love and we talk about what changes us. If we don't talk about Jesus, do we love Him and have we let Him change us?".  To go along with that thought, here are a couple of quotes:

“You talk about what you love. Do you talk about Jesus in a way that others know that He is your treasure?”

“You don’t have to train people to talk about what they love.”

We all remember Jesus saying, in Matthew 22, that all the law boils down to loving God and loving people, with loving God being the first priority.  And, despite so many saying the Old Testament is different, Jesus is actually pointing to passages in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  And that's where Pastor Jeff's comments come in.  I can remember in my teens and twenties (Yes, I can really remember that far back.), when everything held some level of excitement.  And every girl who caught my fancy suddenly became my prime subject of conversation.  It wasn't something I had to learn.  It just came naturally, because the relationship I had hope in was my main interest.

I know I'm not the only one who responded to being in love that way.  So, how do we demonstrate being in love with Jesus?  Does He become the centerpiece of many of our conversations?  Did we have to learn to talk about loving God or was it a natural outgrowth of how we felt about Him?  I don't ask those questions to create a guilt trip.  But the wrong answers to those questions could indicate that we need to change something in our life, in our relationship with God.  We want to change that.  We want our testimony to be true.

When the relationship is right, we'll brag, left and right, about how much we love Jesus.  And that goes back to what I shared from Pastor Jeff in the first post in this series.  We've been changed. That change is the reason we can brag.  And the change gives us the freedom that allows us to brag.  God makes a difference, He gives us a chance to make a difference, and He gives us a chance to experience that difference..

John 14:6 (KJV)  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

That's what we're raving about and bragging on.  We're loved by the Almighty God enough that, as the saying goes, we're "to die for".  But there's a difference in this relationship.  Jesus wants us to be one with each of the persons of the Trinity.  But, then, He wants us to experience that unity by being one with each other.  I guess it could be called selfless selfishness.  And while God's attention is on us, our attention has to be outside ourselves.  Which highlights one other quote

Pastor Vanderstelt said, “If all of the Bible centers on Jesus, then all of our teaching and preaching is by its nature, evangelistic.”.  When we're in that dating relationship, pretty much everything we say and do is highlighting for others that they ought to have this massive appreciation for the other party, just like we do.  At the same time, we don't want to lose them to someone else.  But, as we talk about Jesus that way, the intent is to draw others into closer relationships with God through discipleship and evangelism.

Again, selfless selfishness.  This time, it's because we can never lose that relationship by drawing others into relationship.  And each addition to the Body of Christ only strengthens the whole.  Think of a cell.  By itself, it can't do or be very much.  But connected to others, amazing things are possible.  And the body connected to the head then takes that amazingness to a spectacular new level.  All through selfless selfishness.  Have you experienced yours, today?

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