Taking the challenge:
I guess in some ways I was still blind. LOL.
I did not realize until the last few days the breadth and depth of the spiritual starvation in the Christian land.
But, being first preoccupied with my own salvation, and then with serving the poor to whom I was called by the Holy Spirit; and then the enormous task of writing and publishing my story, I had not seen.
Oh, I had expected the homeless to be needy. Spiritually as well as in every other way.
But, as I push out the gospel message using the reach of social media, I have gotten tearful messages and salvation stories and people hurting needing a place to turn.
I know I have to try to do something for them. I pray God keeps me here long enough to do it. I don’t fear dying anymore. But, I don’t want to leave undone that which God has given me to do.
There are lots of people talking about God, about church, about the Bible. Some of them are truly called and sent out with power of the Holy Spirit. Some are not. But there is nowhere near enough for all the starving spirits out here.
I have spoken to people at all strata of our multilayered society, from the homeless to the lawyers and doctors, the winners and the losers. And they more often than not have either rejected what they call “religion” or have accepted the weak tea they serve at (some? Most?) mainstream churches and think that’s all there is.
But the answers are in the Bible.
“Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and the priests you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Read closely Matthew chapters five and six. (Set aside the arguments about following the law of Moses and think about how Jesus says we should BE.)
Consider the Beatitudes as if they were commandments of God (they are!).
Consider conquering the desires of your flesh (lust, etc.) to be mandatory. Because these powerful fleshly desires pull people away from the Spirit. At a minimum, they are to be fully exhausted in a Godly way with the partners God gave us. (In the past I failed here.)
Consider turning the other cheek to be both a duty and a privilege (it is).
Consider it essential to be ready to let go of your parents, spouses, siblings, even children, at any time.
Consider anger, revenge and hate to be strictly forbidden, even to those who harm you; and forgiveness and loving your enemies to be required (they are).
Consider pride to be poison; whether pride in your body, or your possessions, which is idolatry or in your accomplishments, or in your piety. (A failing of mine, at times).
And, at this point you should be on your knees before the Lord either physically or in spirit-- I am; for I know I can’t do all this--yet I must.
What I am saying is the weak teaching is that these are “merely aspirational” teachings; but I am saying Christ meant every word as imperative.
And of course we have the limitations of the flesh. So, therefore, we fail and the devil tells you, “You can’t do it; it’s a fool’s errand; give up!”
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.”
So, okay, you failed. God says, “Okay. Get up! Now go fail again. Fail over and over. In failing you will succeed.”
Christ was crucified. Peter was crucified; Stephen was stoned; Paul was beheaded. They were willing to fail and fail again and again. And billions of people believe in them. Now go start failing! The reward is for those who persevere.
I don't mean to suggest Christ failed. In the eyes of the world, hanging on a cross, He would've been seen that way.
For, he who never lost never really took on anything too difficult (i.e., he played it safe); and he who never failed never really succeeded. Failing is how our eyes are opened; it is how our spirits grow. Fail enough and you will win.
This is the place the Holy Spirit enters and carries you to the goal. We have to pray for the Holy Spirit to be in us, to fill us, to give us ‘superpowers’, to enable us to continue to try even when we fail. It is like having superpowers when you are bold as never before, letting go of your safe place and challenging every obstacle, praying constantly to the Holy Spirit that He sustain you in the effort, giving you courage and strength as your own fail you.
In fact, without the Holy Spirit we are powerless. The power comes from God not from us. We have to be willing to try to do the things we are afraid of. We have to be willing to fail. We have to be humble to accept our failure and try again. This is the life to which Christ calls us. It is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time! Do we accept the challenge?
That is the calling of Christ. Amen.