by Andrew Min
The essential vice of man through history has been to please himself, to bring himself joy, to accomplish his own will, to receive his own glory. But when a person meets Jesus, everything changes; the Holy Spirit breathes a miracle into their soul, the curious reorientation of their entire life, turning it upside down. In the heart of a Christian, God plants a simple, small desire, a quiet Voice, that says, “I want to serve You, God. I want to do something meaningful for You. I want to do what makes my Father happy.” Your life is no longer about loving the things that that bring yourself pleasure, but to bring pleasure to the One you love. Surrender is no longer a reluctant yielding, but a joyful offering. It’s the upside down, backwards nature of true love, the beautiful foolishness of carrying the cross. It’s extraordinary. It’s silly. It’s divine. And the worldwide Kingdom revolution is going to begin with this holy desire.
But I’m frustrated by the idolatry we practice as believers toward the position of pastor. I feel like a subtle lie persistently influences our church world, a thought that most of us would never explicitly agree with yet somehow continue to propagate: a person’s love for God is measured by their involvement in church. When you first start loving God, you become a greeter for Sunday service; and then when your love for God grows, you become a small group leader; and then if you’re really passionate about Jesus, you’ll be a volunteer staff to give announcements and plan events; and one day, if you love God more than everyone else, you become a pastor. It’s like a church hierarchy, a tower of Babel, and it’s all built on something not true.
I’m sorry… I’m not trying to undermine the value of church service. We definitely need it, and I genuinely believe the Lord loves it. But I feel that we quench the Spirit of God when that’s where our life with Him begins and ends. When we gave our lives to Jesus, we weren’t committing ourselves to being good church attendees and volunteers. We gave up our lives to follow Him, to be led by Him, wherever He would lead us. I wonder though how often we ignore the Holy Spirit’s leading because we’re busy doing church stuff. How sad, the stories that will never unfold, the testimonies we’ll never hear, because we were so settled on the thought that God’s whole calling for our lives was limited to our involvement in church.
A long time ago, the people of God believed that one day, the Temple of the Lord would be filled with God’s glory and that blessings would flow out of the Temple like life-giving water to bring healing and restoration to a dying world. But when Jesus spoke, He said that rivers of living water would flow out of the hearts of those who follow Him—not out of the Temple, not a centralized building, but out of people. Wherever His people walked, life would flow. And they weren’t meant to be kept indoors. We were meant to go. We were meant to engage the world, and to change it.
It’s hard, because church involvement can provide clear, easy ways to serve God, to feel like you’re involved with God’s Kingdom, which can be a great thing. Leading a small group, greeting a newcomer, teaching the Bible, even evangelism—they’re all established, church-approved ways to serve God together that are encouraged by your pastor. But following Christ calls us beyond what’s easy and makes sense, more than just following the crowd. I remember when God chose a man named Jesus of Nazareth to an important calling. Jesus was the perfect model of a son serving his father; His life shows us the way. And when the Holy Spirit led Jesus to His calling, when it came down to it, Jesus found Himself in the garden, completely alone. No one could go there with Him, because only He could accomplish this task, only He could carry this cross. He was led to do something that many opposed and didn’t understand, because God was doing something new, something the world had never seen before. It was lonely, it was scary, it was painful, it was misunderstood, and maybe even uncertain. And it changed the world forever.
I don’t know where God is calling you, but I know that He is. It might not look like dying on a cross—it might look like a business that meets people’s real needs in meaningful ways, or helping people steward their finances well, or telling stories that cultivate Kingdom values and paint truth, or creating art that connects people to the beauty of reality, or healing the sick and the hurting, or having an influential voice in the media that stands for justice, or lobbying for policy change to uplift the voiceless oppressed, or loving your next door neighbor, or a million other possibilities that God has planned to bring blessing and renewal across all spheres of influence and every niche of society. I don’t know what it will look like for you; I don’t know your path. But I know it’s going to be hard, lonely, scary, painful, misunderstood, and maybe even uncertain, because He’s calling you to something only you can be, to something new, something maybe the world hasn’t seen yet, but that it desperately needs.
There is so much God wants to do, things I don’t even know how to describe and can’t imagine, because I don’t have the vision, wisdom, creativity, or courage to see it yet. But all of these amazing things, these Kingdom ventures, they’re dreams in the heart of God that the world is waiting to behold, and He’s planted them as seeds in the hearts of His servants—seeds we perhaps can’t yet see, but that begin with the sound of a simple, small desire, a quiet Voice in our hearts.