Thursday, July 30, 2009
Duty or Desire?
Reading the last few posts you may guess that I'm confused. I agree. I am definitely a confused person.
This Saturday a group of churches are coming together to help the City and neighborhoods. We'll be going into an area that has a large number of home foreclosures and inundating the area by helping out however needed: raking leaves, pulling weeds, mending fences, etc. Honestly I'm not too sure what to expect but I'm looking forward to it. I anticipate a good number of people from my church attending and I think it'll be fun, and at the same time helping out others and maybe getting to know them a bit more and making a positive impact in the area.
And yet, (yes, there is always an "and yet") I have to admit this is where things get scary for me. I am generally not comfortable interacting with others. I'm fine once I get to know someone but I'm not one to strike up a conversation and become instant best friends with someone. Quite the opposite really!
Right now I'm wrestling with why I signed up. In church on Sunday we learned more about the prodigal son story in Luke 15 and took a look at the elder brother, which depicted in many ways the Pharisees or the "religious" types. Timothy Keller wrote a book about this Luke 15 story titled The Prodigal God where he explores that the story is equally about the elder brother as it is the younger, and ultimately the story is about the prodigal father. It's such a wonderful book, you really must read it for yourself!
"There are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord. One is by breaking all the moral laws and setting your own course, and one is by keeping all the moral laws and being very, very good."
I wish to be more than just morally good or keeping the commandments and yet I find myself often doing things out of expectation. I grew up a good (okay, sometimes slightly rebellious) church goer. I like to fulfill the expectations a church has. I enjoy keeping busy with "religious" things. I'll go to any and every event even if I don't even love it. I'm a church addict in some ways. And if I wasn't so negative and difficult I'd possibly be considered spiritual and "good". Indeed, I am faithful and visible and help out whenever possible.
But deep down I wonder what's my motivation? Why am I doing these things? Just because it's church and what's expected? Because I want to follow God's commands? Because I enjoy the appearance of spirituality?
I am not content in doing things just out of obedience, or worse, to hold a high standing in the church. (luckily I blew that a long time ago so that's not a concern: I'm labeled difficult there) Yet even though I fight just checking things off a checklist or doing things out of mere obedience, I find myself often doing things to obey! Or to help out. Or show support. Or not feel guilty.
So as I gear up for this wonderful opportunity to serve and help out this neighborhood of our city with hundreds of others I am once again questioning my motivation. I desire to do this out of love. To love God and His people so much that I can't wait to meet them and serve them in whatever way I can, but I keep coming up thinking that I'm doing this because it's what good church goers do. I've been reading lots of book lately about compassion and living out my faith and I want to do that, but I keep questioning if I love these people and see myself in them, wonderful people that need Jesus like like I once did, or is this just a duty to perform because Christ wants me to? And if this is my motivation, is that really bad? Can God be glorified even if that is my attitude?
I do desire more. I want it to be an outpouring of my faith. So right now I'm just trying to figure that out. Am I excited about this project because I love Christ and therefore love His people? Or because it's just the proper church response?
I'm still not sure.
Oh, and it's not too late if you'd like to come and help out on Saturday morning. I'm sure it will be a great time of fun, fellowship and a time to represent Jesus. and help show them that the church cares about them and their community. I know, I know! I'm wondering if I'm doing things for the right reasons but I do know that regardless this will truly be a Beautiful Day and I'm still happy to be a part of this outreach. If this interests you, contact me or my church.