My every sacred moment spend, In publishing the sinner’s Friend – Charles Wesley
Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing – God, Exodus 19
Creature comfort goals, they only numb my soul, And make it hard for me to see – The Monkees
Charles Colson, President Nixon’s right-hand man who was indicted with him over Watergate, wrote a book, “How Now Shall We Live” shortly after he turned to Christ. In it, Colson questions the lifestyles of modern Christendom, and challenges us to live a life more in line with that adopted by Jesus. Colson, who went on to found Prison Fellowship, made a point of downgrading his lifestyle so that he could live out his faith without criticism, and identify more with his audience. He consecrated his life to Jesus.
The word consecrate is used extensively in both Testaments and it means to be made sacred in order that we can stand in God’s presence. It also has another meaning though, and that is to be devoted to God. We can consecrate our lives to Him, by devoting ourselves to him.
Recently I spent time with a man – a believer and a leader in a well-known church near me, who provided me some insights into how he lived; to be fair, this is not just him, but many others who call themselves believers. This person’s life was leveraged to the hilt. He needed an enormous income to maintain a precarious lifestyle built around debt and over extension. The total dependence on this income was just to live – in his own words, he was handcuffed to a ‘system’ with little room for anything else. He is not unique by any means.
I thought a great deal about this after and it troubled me deeply. It is the root cause of our failure to ever be effective witnesses for Christ. We have identified with the world so much, that our lives are indistinguishable to theirs in every way. How can we talk about Jesus when we are so dependent on the things of this world? Friends, we cannot. Our riches that we think are a blessing, have become a curse.
If you think I stand in judgement, let me assure you I have been in this place before myself, and one thing I can say for certain, God will not use us while we live like this. This man may have been recognised in his church, but he will not be an effective witness for Christ outside it.
God is looking, constantly, for those who are willing to consecrate their lives to him, as Wesley did. That means we must shed the world off our backs, enabling us to be nimble, flexible for God.
As we go out into the streets, it is rarely the white middle class that embraces our message, no, it is the poor and the downcast as it was in Jesus day. Further, we find it exceedingly difficult to attract the middle class, wealthy, church goer to the cause of disciple making. Such a task can be difficult, tiresome and mark us out as a “radical” or antagonist. So often their interests lie elsewhere, sadly.
We should travel lightly through this world or we will never be effective. Imagine standing before Him, knowing that even though he loves us and will still have us, we were by and large useless to him on this earth.
On the other side though, as we dedicate our lives to him each of us, he gives us opportunity time and again to proclaim his name as “the sinners friend.”
Last week, we sold a surfboard to Rob. Rob is 50, ginger and came to our house to pick it up. My wife asked him, “why surfing now”, to which he replied, “I’m trying to get spiritual”. She quipped with a wry smile, “you’ve come to the right place.” Forget all the psychologists, Buddhists, herbalists or sorcerers, come and taste Jesus and he will lighten your load. We talked and prayed with Rob as he told us of his high anxiety and brokenness, and I’ve agreed to take him surfing and will meet weekly to do a Discovery Bible Study.
Rob was the third person that week I had managed to share Jesus with, one was an Afghanistan refugee in Melbourne, now an Uber rider who is moving to Sydney. We will stay in touch.
Our mission and that of those around us, is to see people saved into Jesus Christ and go on to make disciples themselves, to see the church grow and spread. We have learned along the way, that the more we consecrate ourselves to doing that for him, the more purposeful we are about it, the more he keeps sending opportunities our way. Our conversations at home more and more focus around how we do more of this, and less of everything else.
We write this, never to criticise or lay guilt on anyone, neither to brag, but to exhort, to encourage – yes, perhaps to prod a little. We have tasted the ups and downs of life, but sharing life with Christ, and in turn sharing him with others is at the very top of the highest mountain. Nothing comes close.
Come, let us each, consecrate ourselves to him. No regrets, ever.