Love ≠ Tolerance

intervention

The seventies instilled in us the belief, er, wish that “all you need is love” to be happy and succeed in life, politics, the workplace, relationships, whatever.  Love and peace were the mantras echoed against the Vietnam war and turmoil of the draft amongst other things.  Today the battle cry has morphed into tolerance.  We do indeed long to be loved, but we are more concerned with having the freedom to believe and do whatever we darn. well. please.  Sure, it would be great if you loved me for what I do – but I want the government to protect me from you disagreeing with me, bullying me, or trying to prove me wrong.  This mindset is permeating our culture at such a rate that parents are now hesitant to teach and discipline their children, friends consider the highest form of mutual respect to be unmitigated acceptance, and employers and professors are now afraid of their employees and students – for fear that the wrong policy or statement might end in a lawsuit.

Deep in our hearts, on the most visceral level, we know that tolerance does not equal love and tolerance is not a sustainable value in education, maturation and interpersonal relationships.  If a child wants to play with a poisonous snake we tell him no and we explain the dangers.  If a young person believes that babies arrive by storks delivering them to happy parents, the eventually need to be given sex education to learn about how our bodies work and why certain changes have happened to them as they grew older.  If an American moves to England, someone must sit him down and explain driving on the left-hand side of the road and how the turn signal is opposite from the windshield wipers in the US.

Tolerance sounds great:  Live and let live, however we all recognize that there must be confines within which that tolerance resides.  Proclaiming “peace” and declaring that “all we need is love” will not stop terrorists from killing people who are not fighting.  Withdrawing from war will not force the Sudanese people to suddenly get along.  Ignoring evil will not make evil go away.

We also recognize that we must teach children to read and write, to learn math, to walk, and countless other basic skills.  To play a sport or a game there must be rules otherwise the game falls apart.

Ok, so the philosophically elite argue then that tolerance should be encompassing of our “immutable characteristics and belief systems”.  Simply, religion and carnal desires – and general worldviews that would encompass cultural tendencies and desires, as long as you are not hurting or imposing on someone else’s rights.  Again, this sounds very neat and tidy up front, but what about the culture that marries children?  What about the culture that allows multiple spouses?  What about the person who is born with the addiction to cocaine or the person who is genetically prone to alcoholism?  What about the religion that sacrifices animals?  What about the religion that eats human flesh to interact with their gods?  Or has sexual relations with animals?

We are left again with a difficult situation:  to tolerate and allow one person to practice their worldview will cause another to feel discriminated against in almost every situation.  If there are no absolutes, then everyone will find an opponent and it is asinine to expect the government to be able to rule on such a wide and vague range of topics.

That, however, is a side topic.  My main argument is that this kind of tolerance is not only impossible, it is illogical.  If a person truly believes whatever it is that he is proclaiming, then the truest form of love is to tell others and try to convince them of this belief.  If I truly believe that you will die if you step onto the street in front of that speeding bus, then it is not loving of me to philosophically evaluate the situation and consider your worldview and decision.  I will shove you out of the way or pull you back onto the sidewalk.  If I truly believe animals have rights and deserve to be treated humanely, I will join PETA and try to save animals from abusive homes and from religions that would sacrifice them or fight them for sport – and try to convince you why it is wrong to do so.

And most importantly, if I truly believe that apart from Jesus Christ we are all sinners and condemned to Hell, the most loving act for me is to warn you of the coming judgment and tell you of the hope in Jesus Christ.  If I believe that you are headed to Hell because of your sin and never tell you how to be forgiven in Jesus, I either hate you or do not truly believe that, because an eternity separated from God in the lake of fire and torment is infinitely worse than getting hit by a bus.

Tolerance, therefore, is essentially indifference.  To allow someone to do something and live something that is contrary to your belief system – if there is a consequence involved – is to not care.  Or worse, to hate.  One cannot truly validate another’s worldview and opinions without invalidating his own – unless he someone has a completely illogical all-inclusivism which would leave him with fundamentally no belief system.

Philosophy is greatly complicating our relationships and politics.

Therefore, let us cling to the long-standing authority of the Bible which has never been disproven and has withstood the test of centuries of critiques and cultures.  Alcoholism is not new.  Mysticism is not new.  Homosexuality is not new.  Nothing that our culture attempts to throw at the Bible in an effort to discredit or defame it is new.  And while it is a work of the Holy Spirit to draw someone to the Truth of the Bible, Scripture is clear that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Therefore, we must share so that people can hear and be saved.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

– Rom 10.17

If you believe the Bible, if you believe in Heaven and Hell, to love your friend and neighbor is to tell them about Jesus.  To tolerate them is to not talk about Jesus and to not love them, but to condemn them to Hell via inaction.  Once they have heard, there is a level of tolerance required, but true love would continue to be concerned about their eternities and souls, and to never leave the topic far from conversation.  Let us love people, and earnestly try to reason with them so that they may be saved.

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

– Charles Spurgeon

Can philosophy lead us to Jesus?

philosophy

Until relatively recently, in world history, it has been widely understood that there is a larger power at play in the world.  Societies have engaged the supernatural world in a variety of ways, creating some major world religions and countless tribal traditions celebrating the unknown, creating images to worship and developing folklore to explain the inexpiable.  As philosophy has developed over the centuries and as it was influenced by scientific theories – namely evolution – a growing number of people began to reject the idea of the supernatural, an eternal soul, and ultimately meaning in life.

Philosophy and science can lead us right into the arms of God, or they can lead us directly away.  Many of the greatest minds throughout history in both the scientific and philosophical world were Christians, and their studies and theories enhanced their faith.  Others were not, but we have much that we can learn from them as well.  When we live without faith, we seek to enhance our pleasure while on the world.  We are unsure, at best, if there is an after life and we long to make our earthly lives as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.  We have all watched in amazement, however, as some of the most successful, beautiful, outwardly happy people kill themselves and throw away their lives.  It is because when people have attained everything that this world has to offer, they are still left unsatisfied and wanting.

C.S. Lewis, a great philosopher, was led to theism and ultimately to faith in Jesus Christ because of this very reality.  He was not yet a believer, but had become convinced of the existence of God when he made this profound statement:

“A man’s physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread: he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating, and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist.”  In other words, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

– C.S. Lewis

The Bible verbalizes this truth in a variety of ways as well.

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.”

– Ecc 5.10

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

– 1 Tim 6.17-19

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

– Matt 5.6

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

– Mat 6.24

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

– 2 Cor 5.1

Even when our Earthly tent (our bodies) are destroyed, even if everything we own gets swallowed up in fire, we will find our eternal home and fullest pleasure with God in eternity.  Thus, seeking to attain pleasure here on the Earth is futile and impossible, if we strive for money and worldly pleasure.  We may experience moments of happiness, but it will not ultimately satisfy.  It will not last.

Do you know that you were made for another world?  Or are you still storing up your treasures here on Earth, where moth and rust destroy?  Have you bought into the lie that philosophy and science do not serve God?  He is the creator of the mind, the universe, the natural laws and there is nothing that will be found or tested that will ever disprove His existence or the Bible.  Science and philosophy are His tools, and tools that can help us to understand Him and the world around us better.  Let us reclaim our thought life, our jobs and our pleasures for God.  Let’s not put Him in a little box that we take out on Sunday mornings and keep separate from everything else.  We were created for another world, and for relationship with Him.  Let’s live for that.

“I kept you from sinning…”

ethics

Being finite and confined to our own, physical bodies, it is very often difficult for us – especially self-centered westerners – to consider powers outside of ourselves, and greater than ourselves, greatly impacting our lives.  I vividly remember my high school freshman AP English class entering the discussion of destiny:  is there such a thing?  Are we in control of it?  And that conversation quickly turned to the issue of morality:  would we know right and wrong if it weren’t for laws and rules?  We were essentially discussing the existence and power of God without bringing His name into it.

Interestingly enough, however, those who believed in destiny were the more free-thinking artistic type, while those who did not were more of the scientific, right-brained persuasion.  However one such guy, who is now a pharmacist, made the statement:  “I think if I killed my friend and there was no law against it, I would at the very least feel sad that he was gone, and recognize that I had done something bad”.  This conversation has remained in my mind as I have grown Spiritually through the years.  I am a bit more right brained, and without the direction of Scripture, I would naturally like to believe that I am in control and make my own destiny.  But when we truly consider our limited nature, it is the greatest blessing to have Scripture teach and guide us.

The book of Romans beautifully teaches us that we are given the Law of God so that we may know sin (Rom 7.7).  When Adam and Eve were first placed in the Garden of Eden, they had not yet sinned and therefore had no experiential knowledge of it.  They were still innocent and thus could walk in the presence of God.  God did, however, give them a commandment and consequence for breaking that commandment – thus they had an intellectual knowledge of sin.  They knew disobedience was an option, and its result if they did it.  The law gave them knowledge of sin.

Romans also teaches us that God has written His Law on our hearts to the extent that we have consciences and feel guilty when we do something that is morally wrong.

“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”

– Rom 2.14-16

So my non-believing, scientifically minded friend recognized this God-given attribute of a conscience, which is founded on God’s perfect law.

We also see beautifully in Scripture that God is the beginning and the end.  He wrote the entire story of history before He even created the world, prophesying Jesus at the very moment Adam and Eve sinned.  Because of this sovereignty we can believe promises like Rom 8.28 which states that “all things work together for good for those that love God”.  If God were not sovereign and in control of the universe, then He cannot guarantee that everything will work together for good.  He is just a piece of the puzzle watching and waiting to see what happens next.

What, then, when someone puts us in an impossible situation?  Will we ever be tempted or able to turn back and blame God for our actions and sin?

While God is sovereign over every situation, and while He uses sin as a part of His plan and will, we still make that decision to sin in our minds and will still give an account.  It was God’s sovereign plan from the beginning to offer Jesus as our atoning sacrifice, and yet those who actually murdered Jesus will be held responsible for their actions and sin.  It was prophesied and God’s perfect plan that Jesus would be betrayed by one of His close friends, and Judas is still responsible and guilty for that sin.  As Joseph said, “what you meant for evil, God meant for good” (Gen 50.20).

God does promise, however, that with every temptation there will be provided an escape.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

– 1 Cor 10.13

I once was in a situation where the local police were looking for some Christians because they had been talking about Jesus and seeing people saved (this was illegal in that country), so I and some friends were helping to hide them until they could leave the region.  Their car was in my back yard, but they kept moving from friends’ house to friends’ house.  The police came and asked if we knew where they were.   We were honestly able to answer, “no”.  They did not ask any probing questions, they did not ask if we had seen them, God oversaw the situation such that they asked the only question we could answer without lying and without endangering the lives of our friends.

Whatever temptation comes your way, enticing you to sin, God has promised a way of escape.

Not only that, we also see a beautiful example of God protecting a king from unknowingly sinning:

“Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.  But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.”  Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless?  Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”  Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.”

– Gen 20.2-6

Abimelech was the king, so it is not only possible but likely that he had multiple wives.  But even so, consider taking a wife and not being with her intimately that same day!  He was exercising his rights as king, he considered Sarah beautiful and so he took her to be his wife without the knowledge that she was married, but believing the lie that she was not!  Therefore, God kept him from sinning.

I am not promising that there will never be a time when you sin based on incorrect knowledge or the sin of someone else.  But we do see that God is concerned about our holiness so much so that He promises to always provide an alternative to sinning, and there are times when He will intervene and keep us from sinning when we are unaware.

We do all have a God-given conscience by which we recognize sin, and there is a destiny.  God has written the story of our lives, and He will cause all things to work together for good for those who love Him.  He will intervene in our lives and provide us ways to escape temptation and sin, and He will intervene in our lives in ways that we may never know – to direct us down a path, to keep us from sinning, or to bring glory to Him in any number of ways.  So let us trust Him today.  Let us praise Him for our salvation and the provisions thus far, and let us continue to trust in Him and follow Him diligently until we get to meet Him face to face.

Always Learning but never gaining knowledge.

books

When I was in High School, I went to a big church that was exceptionally good at events.  Like many of the big, evangelical churches in the late 90’s, early 2000’s, we began to see that while we were successfully drawing in people (namely, students), we were failing to truly introduce them to Jesus, and discipleship was not happening.  Thus, many youth and adults who once attended church for the entertainment factor have fallen away.  The church was large enough that we put on our own summer camp.  Hundreds of students, a big stage, a cool band, a dynamic speaker, you know…the cool stuff.  Students would make an emotional decision to follow Jesus, but then continue living worldly lives with no accountability or training.  While I was in High School, we began the transition away from events and to cell groups.  Remember those?  The first small groups.  Unfortunately, they were still age-segregated and thus we had students teaching students.  As it proved later, non-Christians teaching non-Christians about the Bible.

At the time, my faith was extremely academic.  I loved the Bible, I loved theology, I loved to study.  Seeing a youth group full of people who did not know Jesus, but pretended to, I grew frustrated with the Church and developed a circle of friends from high school who were the philosophical type.  We took the world religions classes, we would discuss Nietzsche, the meaning of life, and sit up drinking coffee at Perkins until 2:00 am.  I was the only professing Christian in the core group, but we all had a respect for one another and would listen attentively and critically to push one another to think more deeply.  We were those kids.

The day I arrived home from my sophomore year of college, I received news that one of these friends had been killed in the war.  My world was shaken, and my faith rocked.  Jesus hung out with the sinners, right?  I was hanging out and preaching the Gospel to nonbelievers.  I wanted him to believe.  I had prayed for him.  I wrote him letters on while he was fighting for our country.  How could his salvation not be what God wanted?

Throughout the next year as I wrestled with the eternal facets of the faith and the implications thereof, God helped me to fall in love with the Church.  In short He said, I love and died for my bride.  You are called to do the same.  Not only that, He showed me that philosophy is vain, if we are not being transformed into the image of Christ or winning others to the faith.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

– Col 2.8

For us, the meaning of life and whether or not the physical world truly existed was an interesting mental exercise.  Sure, I kept the ten commandments as best I could, I didn’t smoke or drink or sleep around, but theology and the Bible was so interesting to me that it engaged my mind without engaging my affections.  I wanted to see how all the pieces fit together, but was not falling more in love with Jesus in response.  We were thinkers.  We were philosophers.  We were “seekers”.

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

– 2 Tim 3.1-7

Many churches in those days developed programs, and some even turned their entire focus to seekers.  “Seeker Sensitive” became the new hot word which some despised and some embraced as gospel truth.  We no longer used “church-ese” language, so that outsiders can understand.  We keep our preaching simple to engage a potential visitors, and our focus is on those who might show up and not know what is going on.

While that mentality is completely unbiblical, it also proved to be unfruitful.  Why?  Because many “seekers” are those academics who enjoy the mental discipline of examining theories and worldviews, but will never take a stand and choose one.  They are “always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of truth”.  And most seekers do not show up to church on their own.  If they do, they enjoy the simplistic preaching and people are not growing.  It is the same problem as the event-driven church: no disciples are made.

Paul warned us that this day was coming.  It has been happening throughout history.  William Wilberforce fought against it in the early 19th century.  Ryle and Spurgeon fought against it at the end of the 19th Century.  Jonathan Edwards and the puritans fought against it during the birth and growth of modern philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries…academic philosophers questioning the nature of reality but never encountering Jesus in a life-transforming way.

Paul teaches us not to rearrange our churches to cater to seekers.  Quite the opposite, in fact, he warns us to avoid such people.

Now, I know that sounds harsh.  God is love, and He would reject no one, and if we are supposed to be like Him, we should love everyone and not reject anyone either.  Right?  There are people that we are commanded to avoid and disassociate with, and they are those who have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and reject it or continue in sin, rejecting God’s teaching on their sin.

“Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.

– Matt 10.14

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

– Matt 18.15-17

“It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.  You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.  For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.  In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

– 1 Cor 5.1-5

Avoid such men as these.”

– 2 Tim 3.5

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us…If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame.”

2 Thess 3.5, 14

We are too afraid to offend anyone these days, that we will not call a spade a spade.  We are too afraid to stand up against sin that we allow it in the camp and it destroys us from the inside out.  The early church took sin extremely seriously because they were running for their lives and depending on one another for accountability and livelihoods.  Church was serious.  Now, church is like a big club that we want everyone to join, and showing up on Sunday mornings is enough for us.  The early church also understood their guilt before a righteous God and the due penalty for that guilt, thus they took their personal holiness seriously, learning to live holy and righteous lives through the power of the Holy Spirit and dying to the flesh.  Nowadays we trivialize sin and believe that God will forgive us no matter what we do, because God is love.

Paul gives us the clearest instruction for how we are to respond:

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.  But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?  But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

– 1 Cor 5.9-15

A person who claims to be a believer yet continues is sin is dangerous and we are disassociate with them.  Period.  A person who hears the Gospel and rejects it is not of us, and we are to move on, and take no offense.  We do not cater to seekers who are always learning but unable to come to knowledge.  We do not cater to nonbelievers who might stumble in our doors.  We go out and proclaim the Gospel where people are, and then welcome them in to begin the process of maturation and growth.

Do you have the knowledge of Jesus Christ?  Do you interact with Him on a daily basis and abide in Him?  Do you rely on Him for strength and sustenance?  Doe the Holy Spirit guide you and convict you of sin?  Or are you just an academic seeker?  Do you entertain the various philosophies out there to expand your mind?

Avoid the temptation.  God has given us clear truth and answers to the questions we have.  Let’s find the answers and be satisfied, not continually seeking, and not continually engaging those who hear the truth but do not receive it.  Let us keep precious our pearls and not throw them before swine.  It is a sensitive balance that we do not write off unbelievers, we pray for them, we engage them, but we must beware to invest too much time in one who will never learn and thus not have the opportunity to reap the harvest that is ready.  Let us pray for wisdom, discernment and guidance.  Let us trust God.

The Luxury of Philosophy

Yesterday at Church, my pastor preached a sermon entitled “Consumer Vs. Contributor”.  He was speaking directly to the way that the American church has adapted the American dream to our concept of Church, noting that when church-goers were surveyed as to their understanding of the purpose of the church, the #1 answer was “to meet the needs of me and my family”.  This sermon brought up some thoughts that have been stewing in my mind for the past year, relating to how we pursue careers and meaning in life.

For most of my life I had a single purpose, a single dream and calling, which I pursued without hesitation or doubt.  I spent six years in college and grad school academically preparing to live this life of meaning.  I spent my breaks abroad, I built relationships with like-minded people, I networked, and for four wonderful years I was fortunate enough to live out my passion.  Then one day, about a year and a half ago, everything crumbled.  My dream and my life were snatched out of my hands.  I was left dazed and confused and began to ask myself, “What am I going to do now?”.

God has undoubtedly, without missing a single beat, provided for me.  He gave me a job that has blessed my soul, a new city that has been exciting to explore, great family and friends who have been solid during a time of trial and grief and a Church to Spiritually guide and protect me.  But as I have been reflecting on this idea of passion, dreams, living a life of purpose or meaning, I have been chewing on the luxury that we, as a society, have to ponder the meaning of life and to choose – by in large – our occupation based on our worldviews and passions.

In many societies around the world, people work to survive.  If they do not get out and plant their rice, they will not eat.  If they do not drive their taxis, their children will not go to school next week.  If they do not work on a construction crew, they will have nowhere to sleep.  Yes, in the United States we work to earn money to provide for ourselves and our families, but our systems are established with a variety of safety nets so that people do not have to go hungry, children will always go to school and if push comes to shove people can usually find a home or establishment in which to sleep while they get their feet back on the ground.  Much of the world does not have the luxury of being able to ask themselves, “What do I want to do with my life?”.

In one of my philosophy classes in grad school, the professor opened the semester with this verse:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

– Col 2.8

As you can imagine, he was a very funny professor.  He was not discrediting philosophy of the whole, he observed that we need to be mindful to not get caught up in the passions, philosophy and empty deception of the world.  We need to focus our philosophical observations on Christ!

God is very concerned with every aspect of our lives.  When we come to Christ for salvation, the old man dies and is put away.  A new man is born, with a new heart, and we set out on a lifetime of learning and growing Spiritually in how to love, honor and obey God in everything that we do.  And there are those amongst us who are called to a lifetime of ministry or Christian service within the Church vocationally.  But vocational Christian ministry is not God’s primary or highest service.  In fact, Paul warns that not many of us seek such a role because they are held to a higher standard and will be judged more intensely at the end:

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”

– James 3.1

God is primarily concerned with our hearts.  He wants to give Spiritual life to us, and the marks of Spiritual life are the fruit of the Spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

– Gal 5.22-23

He wants to establish you in faithfulness.  We wants to build up joy in me, and kindness in the man working the rice paddy in SE Asia.  To the woman drawing water in Kenya, he will teach self control.  It certainly relates to our vocation in the sense that we live godly lifestyles, we represent the heart of God, in whatever profession He has placed us.  But we do not have to be pastors or missionaries to exemplify these characteristics.  And, being a pastor or missionary will not establish these traits in you!  It must be the working of the Spirit personally, intentionally, directly on your life.

People living from day to day, for basic survival, may not get to ponder the meaning of their lives.  They might not get to ask, “What do I want to do with my life?”.  But God will transform them into new creatures that honor Him throughout their daily tasks.  And He will change you.  And me.  He gives us a new heart.  And He allows us to glorify Him wherever we in.  Whatever we are doing.  Because it matters not what we do, so long as we do it to the glory and honor of God.  Even a slave can honor God:

“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.  Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

– Col 3.22-24

What are you going to do with your life?