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More of God, Less of Me

November 11, 2013

One of the things I enjoy most about working at Glenn Park Christian Church is that my Lead Minister, Chris Solwecki, takes shepherding and mentoring the associate pastoral staff seriously. He has been a great source of information, encouragement, rebuke, prayer, and enrichment over the past year and a half since he joined our merry band. We are currently studying through a book called Building Below the Waterline by Gordon MacDonald, which has been a very enlightening book to read and reflect upon. MacDonald speaks of having a personal mission statement for your life, because “Without a mission, people live by reaction rather than initiation (MacDonald, 29).” Looking back on my life, I tend to agree.

With that in mind, we as a staff set about to put together a mission statement of some sort. While talking through it together, our Youth Minister, Seth, said the first thing that came to mind for him was the idea of “more of God, less of me”. Sounds great, right? You bet it does!  BUT… beneath that great sounding neat and tidy phrase lurks some serious work. If one is to truly live out such a phrase, there is much sacrifice to be made. Sacrifice equals giving up things which might be near and dear to us in order to follow Jesus more completely. Jesus Himself spoke of this in Luke chapter 14.

Luke 14:15-34 [MSG]

25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

28-30 “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’

31-32 “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?

33 “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.

34 “Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it’s useless, good for nothing.

“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Wow… These are tough words from the mouth of our Lord and Savior! Really? I have to give up my entire family in order to follow Christ to the fullest extent?  Is that really what Jesus means? If the passage were meant to be read literally, then yes, that is exactly what it would mean. However, as is repeatedly shown through the Gospels, Jesus constantly uses story and parable as His preferred method of teaching. Jesus is not literally telling us we must leave our family behind in order to follow Him. What He is saying, however, is revealed in verse 33 and 34. When the things we hold dear overshadow our devotion to Christ, we become virtually unusable. When people, places, and things become more important than following Jesus, we become flat salt. Flavorless, tasteless, useless, good for nothing. I don’t want to be good for nothing. I want to be useful for God’s kingdom. I want to make a difference for Christ in the physical world that also impacts the spiritual world, but that can’t happen if I’m flat salt. I must lean into Christ daily so the things of this world will continue, as the song says, to grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Only then can I truly work toward having more of God and less of me.

As a man of God, I am continually making effort to strive for maturity and discipline in my life. I have been fortunate enough to achieve some level of this in my spiritual life, my home life, my work life, and my educational pursuits. However, one place I have continually failed is in my state of bodily health. For too long, I followed the Mark Lowry joke of my body needing to be a well fueled transport vehicle to get my brain from point A to point B. What God revealed to me was that I had allowed food and physical stagnation to become an idol. I had become flat salt in my witness because I had allowed gluttony (one of the 7 deadly sins!!!)  and sloth (another one!!!) to control my habits. So, in order for me to have more of God and less of me, I literally needed to make LESS OF ME. What I have found over the past 10 weeks in this journey is an opportunity to shed weight and build stamina for God. My kids are eating healthier. My wife is eating healthier. I am eating healthier and exercising more often. I did my walk/jog around the neighborhood this morning listening to the Hillsong station on the Pandora app on my phone and had one of the most intimate moments with God over a song called Here For You by Matt Redman. By kissing stagnation and overeating goodbye, I am beginning to regain some of the saltiness I had lost! My efforts in this will be used by God to impact the physical and spiritual realms, thereby physically and spiritually making more of God and less of me!

My encouragement to you today is to take a spiritual, physical, and emotional assessment. What do you need to kiss goodbye in order to follow Christ more fully into maturity? What idols are holding you back and making you into flat salt? Toss off the soft velvet ropes of complacency and make a decision to bring those things under the Lordship of Christ for the glory of God!

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