Do I Have To Be Perfect In Order To Serve The Lord?

sanctification, perfection, the great commissionAs Christians, we have a very real and very active enemy.  This enemy is opposed to God and all He stands for and spends all of his time seeking ways to disrupt and destroy that which is good (1 Peter 5:8).  Because we are the blood-bought, born again children of God, more often than not, we are the target of this enemy’s attack.

The enemy’s preferred way to operate is to try to make sure that we never hear the good news, the gospel message that Jesus saves, or if we do hear it, to try and get us to ignore or forget it without ever giving our hearts to God.  Hopefully, if you are reading this, you are already past that point.  You did not fall for the enemy’s lies and you asked Jesus to come in to your heart and to forgive you of your sins and to save your soul. If you’ve done that, then I praise God for your decision.  If you haven’t, then there’s still time, and I encourage you to make the choice now, while you still can.

But what comes next?  Once we are saved, why doesn’t God go ahead and take us home to be with Him?  Why does He allow us to continue on in this dark world of sin and heartache?  And why does Satan continue to come after us and try to tempt us with old sins and old habits and do everything that he possibly can to get us away from God and all that is good?

The answer to all of those questions that we just asked can be found in the Bible, in many places.  But for our purposes, we will choose what is perhaps the clearest and best answer.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

We call this the great commission.  Jesus Himself gave it to His disciples and to all of those who would follow Him down through the ages.  His words are clear.  We have a job to do.  We must teach and preach His Word, the Bible, and we must make disciples of all nations until the end of the age when He comes back again.  This is the task that we have been given by the One who saved us and the primary way that our neighbors, family members, co-workers and countrymen can hear the gospel message so that they too can be saved.

I would have you notice that Jesus does not give any qualifications for those who are to undertake this task.  Nowhere in the great commission does it say “once you reach a certain level of spiritual maturity, then you can go teach and preach” or “get everything in your life in order and then go do my work”.

All that is required is our faith and belief in the saving power of the gospel and our continued reliance on the Holy Spirit for our strength and daily provision.  There is the expectation that we will want to grow in our faith and knowledge of God and that we will not want to sin or make mistakes.  And we should continually strive to learn more of God’s Word and to be transformed by the daily renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

And of course our enemy does not want that to happen.  Our enemy would have us to be fearful and silent and more focused on our shortcomings and flaws than on God’s saving grace.  Our enemy can and will put every obstacle and every hurdle at his disposal in front of us to keep us from carrying out the great commission and one of the primary ways that he does this is by trying to convince us that we aren’t worthy to work for Jesus.

The reality is we aren’t worthy.  No one is.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and if our worthiness was our qualification to serve and to be a child of God then we would never make it.  We would be lost and without hope if any aspect of our salvation was based on our being worthy.

Only God is worthy and we only become worthy when we identify with and accept the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary.  He who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) so that we might be worthy to worship, worthy to receive eternal life and worthy to serve.  And it is based on what Jesus did for us that we can start each day with joy in our hearts and a song on our lips and be the witnesses to God’s redeeming work that He has called us to be.

The truth of the matter is that we who are saved and redeemed are still flawed, imperfect humans.  But God chooses to work through and work with flawed, imperfect human beings who are willing to be used and willing to serve the Lord.  And it is only through our close walk with God and our willingness to serve and to work that God can bring about miracles in us and through us.

God’s perfect plan will be accomplished regardless of whether or not we decide to be involved or to let Him use us.  But when we make the decision to allow the Lord to use us then we will be blessed by His presence and His peace and He can use us to bless and reach those around us.  Perfection is not required, willingness and surrender most certainly are.

Are you willing to be used and are you surrendered to God’s work being carried out in your life?  I pray that you are.

The Transformation Of The Old Man And The Car

God, salvation, santificationI read a story recently that put a smile on my face.  The story centered around an old car but it was really a story about memories, shared experiences, love and most importantly, rebirth.

The paraphrased version goes something like this:  In the early 70’s a young urban couple who did not own a car and did not need one for transportation purposes began looking for a vehicle for weekend getaways and longer road trip vacations.  They were getting to the place financially where they could afford something that would be fun but not too extravagant.  After reading a few reviews in various automotive publications they settled on a 1973 Porsche 911 from a local dealership.

For 7 years they enjoyed their little Porsche.  It was their ticket to freedom after long work-weeks and it went up and down the highways and interstates of the US while bringing countless smiles and untold joy into its’ owners lives.  Then, in 1980, a job offer came from a much bigger company in a much bigger city and it was time to move.  The only downside to the new arrangement, no easy or safe place to park their beloved 911 in the big city.  After much thought and several late night discussions the couple decided that they did not want to sell the car so a local storage facility was located.  There the little Porsche would remain, tarp covered and silent for the next 33 years.

Once every few years someone would mention the car and the good times and a discussion would be had as to the car’s future and what should eventually be done with it.  This went on until 2013 when the couple was having dinner with some friends and the discussion turned to reminiscing about the past and the little car was mentioned.  The dinner guests’ eyes lit up, they were Porsche enthusiasts and knew a master mechanic who specialized in restoring early 911’s and encouraged the couple to have the car appraised and to meet with the master mechanic.

Not too long after, the couple stood in the storage facility together with someone new.  The master mechanic had come and lifted the tarp off of the 911 for the first time in many years.  His eyes lit up as he looked over the car.  Even with flat tires and covered in dust he could see the excellent condition of the interior and the fact that the odometer read a little over 35,000 miles.  The spare tire and tool-kit were intact and there was no rust anywhere.

So the question came.  “How much to bring her back to life, the way she was in 1973?”  The master thought for a few moments and then said “$20,000”.  Slightly shocked, the husband replied, “why would I spend $20,000 to restore a car that’s only worth maybe $20,000”?  The master smiled and said “put a 1 in front of your number.  The car’s restored worth is over $100,000.”

For the restoration the couple gave the master full authority to do whatever he needed to do to bring the old 911 back to life.  Every inch of the car was inspected and under the master’s watchful eye and practiced hand, that which needed to replaced was replaced with only the finest and best.  The master even went so far as to call in others who shared his enthusiasm for the project and used their expertise and their hands to make the little car even better than it was when it was brand new.

Finally the day came when the master gave his stamp of approval and said “the car is ready and the work is done!”  So the couple once again hopped into their little 1973 Porsche 911 that looked and operated even better than it did when it sat on the showroom floor all those years ago.  Their first drive was to the local Porsche dealership to have the car inspected and tested and it is not a stretch to say that every mechanic and technician in the place was stunned and delighted to see the absolute perfection of that early 911 sitting in their service area.

Everywhere the couple went people stopped and smiled at the little car.  Even folks not familiar with cars knew it was something special and beautiful and could see the joy that it brought to its owners.  It was clear that the little car had been well loved and was now fulfilling its intended purpose in a special and beautiful way.

As I finished reading the story I realized that I was smiling.  Something about it had warmed my heart and resonated very deeply with me.  I contemplated for a few moments and then I thought about what the Father did for me.  I thought about Him seeing me in the state that I was in and deciding that I was loved and that I had value.  I thought about the process of sanctification and how it sometimes feels like I am being disassembled and certain parts of me are being replaced with better thoughts and better ideas and Godly motivations.  And it didn’t take very long until I understood exactly why it was that I like this story very, very much.

And as I continued with my contemplation I realized that I was smiling and that my heart was warm because I was thankful.  I am thankful that God is still working on me and is still fixing me up for my intended purpose.  I am thankful that rebirth is not only possible but is in process simply because God loves me that much.  My “old man”, my old self, will not be my last self.  The Master is seeing to it and great joy will be the result.

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

(2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)