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Brett Blatchley
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This question (and my answer) has been percolating in me for a while...actually well before I discovered this blog and the idea of Stage-4 faith: Maybe call it the "If you build it, they will come" way of looking at success? If we surrender to Jesus, then He will change our life. If we seek His kingdom first, then He will supply our needs. If we make His desires ours, He will give us the desires of our heart. If we pursue God, give priority to loving Him, (which very often means) loving others, and cooperating with His Spirit as He works to make us Christlike, THEN we will be most usable by our Lord to attract others to Himself, and most useful in encouraging our brothers and sisters on their own journeys with Christ. It's not that we should eschew planning, strategy, tactics or things like that: No! Instead, I think that these things should not be our starting-place - It's possible that these things become stumbling blocks instead of the tools they are meant to be, WHEN we put these Means before the End of loving God first. When I first surrendered to Jesus, it was very much with the idea that I was giving ownership of myself to Him, and that I had a purpose, even a *Purpose* (with a capital-P!). I had to fulfill God's purpose for me; there was literally no other reason for me to exist! After a couple trips through the "wilderness," once after His closing the door to foreign missions, and again through great, ongoing family difficulties, I wondered "How can anybody run the 'race' like Paul, or Peter, or Mother Teresa, or any of a great number of people who really *did* things for God? I wanted to serve God in a 'great' way, BUT He doesn't *want* me there (maybe this means He doesn't want *me*?). So I'm doomed to be a failed Christian?" As you can imagine, this hurt A LOT - it took me years to get over my pain, feelings of rejection, and (subtle) resentment at God having closed the doors to ministry when so few people are willing to "go" and I 'burned bridges' in my life to do so... This was excruciating to go through, BUT one of the outcomes was that He taught me that He wasn't the tyrannical-impossible-to-please-perfectionist-god (think J.B. Phillips: the "God of 100%"), RATHER, He's my Abba, the one who calls me His "Beloved" because I am *desired*, and He asked me to call Him "my Love." ...SO, I've come to strongly suspect that TO GOD, all these "things" we might do for Him, even great things ("...and 5000 were saved that day...") are really just means to an end: The End for each of us is Christlikeness, and the means are His way of helping develop us. In a sense, we as His children, are all on the same playing field, and in this race, it's a contest against ourselves: How successful we are depends on how much we've cooperated with His Spirit to re-make us into the image of Christ. The other "things," even "great" things are *secondary* to this. In His *extravagance* we intertwines our lives together with circumstances, opportunities, and our failures to make tapestry of great glory to Himself. (Just think of how this is *so antithetical* to the rat-race-mentality of Western culture!) If we let Him make us like Jesus, then we will be the success He wants us to be.
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Nov 4, 2011