"What I find interesting is that the Christians [in Acts 11:26] didn't name themselves. But rather, they were called (or named) "Christians" by those watching their lives. I wonder if it would be the same today. Could someone look at your life or look at my life and name me a Christian?"I have been chewing on that quote. God has been teaching us (and so many others we are hearing from) that we (Andy and I) have not lived differently from those around us. We've given, but are we willing to sacrifice for others? We want to share Him with all but have we sought our own reputation/acceptance in the process? We desire to love each other as He loves us, but do we lay down our lives daily to lift each other towards Him? Painfully, Andy and I saw that we have not. But graciously, God has reminded us that His work in us is not through. He is changing our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh that want to obey Him joyfully because He is the true treasure!
"As you come to HIM, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ... But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for HIS own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
I'm praying through and looking at my life and asking how being set apart and holy to God means changing the way I live: Does my weight reflect that Christ is the hope of my heart? What about how we spend the money He's entrusted us with? My daily schedule? etc... Those are so good to show where my heart is and areas where I want to grow, need to fight against my sin, and should look different.
I'm mostly praying that I won't become focused on doing things that reflect Him in order to please Him or impress others and miss Him! Being set apart is our position given, not a way we earn Him. What a constant battle for me to excitedly step out differently in freedom and joy in Him as He leads me and yet not fall into trying to earn His favor or prove my worth (because the truth is apart from Him I have no worth) by doing good.
So, as we look at our call to be set apart and weigh those areas where we are lacking, I'm praying that it's always centered on looking to Jesus. Jesus is the stone rejected by men, but precious to God. He is our living hope. Our salvation is in Him, through Him, and by Him alone. He is the true joy of our hearts. And it's His great love that should be consuming us and it's that love that compels us to want to live differently. I want to look set apart because I know I am so very different because of Him and His great love. I'm chosen by Him to be His and receive an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance (1:4) Wow!
I'm excited that our call is to live for Him together. I'm challenged as this call to be set apart is revealing how I haven't lived differently from those who aren't His. I'm learning daily how freeing it is to step out in new and deeper ways living differently because He is the true treasure and He calls me through His Word to live it out in His power. I'm praying we will learn to seek Him together and live it out compassionately among those who are still in darkness. Oh Lord, please do this work in us!!!!