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Friday, July 15, 2011

A character that can handle the calling

I just flew in from Seoul last night. I'm jet-lagged and delirious. I feel like age has finally determined that it has an affect on me. Waking up to do quiet time was easy, actually doing it was hard. My body and my mind didn't want to do it because my eyes are burning and my head is spinning. I wish I was adjusted back to this time zone!
I remember a 3 day retreat I once put together with some great people when I was a youth pastor in Orange County, our theme was from Character to Calling to Community. We spent a day (two sessions) on each of the things, but of all three topics, calling was the most intriguing to everyone - people simply begged the question, "What should I do with my life!?"

My friend who currently is getting his Ph.D at Oxford spoke on the first of the sessions on calling. He broke it down into a primary calling and a secondary calling: The primary calling is to love God and to love others and the secondary calling is how you go about doing that vocationally. Most people look for things they can do for God instead allowing them to simply be completely willing and dependent vessel for God to work through. Another friend who currently works as an editor for Sojourner's Magazine spoke on the importance of just waiting on God and walking in obedience.

I spoke on the importance of Community and how it works to keep you aligned with God. The significance of truth speaking in love and an engagement towards a singular purpose in loving God and loving others expressed in each individuals' unique manner. How community is both an act of influence through servanthood and an active decision to regularly subject yourself to the community you involve yourself in and allow the community to shape your decisions.

Character was the one thing that was easy to preach about and hard to sell. I also spoke on one of the sessions for the day on Character, essentially calling it the importance of being like Christ. Moral character just seemed to be the only thing I could really share about, but character seemed more descriptive without having any requirement to do anything except the right thing simply because it was the right thing to do (which is also very hard). I preached about how character was displayed through the fruits of the spirit, but it felt incomplete. I think my definition of character is beginning to change.

The more I think about what character is, the more I realize that character, like calling is two-fold: moral character and character of dependent obedience. We all know what moral character is at least on a basic level; the golden rule sums it up - do unto others as you would have done unto you. Dependent obedience is much more elaborate and much more interactive. It requires you to be in a place where you are living a life of moral character, but also constantly engaging with God as the source of your strength to stay "pure" and walk in a manner that creates an environment where our ears are open to be able to hear Him.

It's hard to think of doing thing in a manner that is counter cultural. We all hear the same advice: get a good job, stick it through, make a few career moves, get the house, have the kids, retire with a nest egg, then move to Florida to die. All good and well, but I can't help but think that if you walk with God, that God has something so much more incredible in store!

I can't help, but imagine what the potency of a life that is fully engaged with God can look like. People who literally look past their own circumstances to see where God is moving and then joining in on His work is always something that inspires. My hope is just that, that I can walk down that road; a road with so many unknowns, and a full certainty in the God who created the universe and carefully involves Himself in each of His childrens' lives.

It all begins with putting aside everything that I want due to how I was conditioned by the world to get the greatest thing I can get in the universe, an intimate relationship with the living God.

This is what I want: To be so enamored and engaged with God that I no longer have to think about what is right or wrong, but how close or how far I am with God.

God will develop my character to fit His assignment. In this, I have faith.

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