Monday, April 28, 2008

John Adams and Sacrifice

Recently I have been reading through author David McCullough's biography of John Adams. My wife had read this book shortly after it was released a few years ago, and she could hardly set it down while reading it. I began reading John Adams both to discover what was so intriguing about this "Founding Father" and to see if I could actually finish every page of this 600 plus page monster.

After reading halfway through the book thus far, I am captured most of all by the sheer sacrifice of John Adams and his family. They risked everything they held dear (including their own lives) to struggle for the liberty of the infant United States of America. John Adams spent years away from his wife and children while serving as an Ambassador to France during and after the Revolutionary War to secure freedom and trade agreements for his country. All the while, he and his wife Abigail placed a higher value on the dreams and goals of their neighbors and country than on their own personal happiness.

Reading about the Adamses makes me think about my own life and my own willingness to make sacrifices for the ministry of the Kingdom of God. I often complain when I have several nights of meetings or when it seems my work at the church is piling up on me. Surely the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is equally if not more important as working for our country. Perhaps I take too much for granted. Maybe I am more self-centered than I think I am. Maybe I am a product of my time just as John Adams was a product of a different generation with different values and expectations. Still I ask myself what I would be willing to sacrifice to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me know what you think about making sacrifices. Should we make more sacrifices in order to serve Christ? Are Christians in the United States too comfortable to do the ministry that is required of us by God?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What "Burdens" You?

Early this week, a lay leader in our congregation made a presentation to our leadership group concerning the vision and mission of our church. He said, "before a church can have a vision for the future, it must have a burden." Those words have stayed with me throughout this week. I have been wondering about our local church and the church in the United States, "are we really burdened about anything?"

Are we burdened by the fact that the message of salvation and new life in Jesus Christ goes unheard by so many? Are we burdened by the fact that as our economy weakens there is a growing need to help the poor and the elderly in our community? Are we burdened by the injustices that exist right under our noses? Are we burdened by the cries of those who are hurting and suffering? Or are we comfortable being comfortable?

In a Bible Study group I meet with on Wednesday evenings we have been studying the Book of Acts which teaches about the early followers of Christ. Two of those followers were named Peter and John. These men definitely had a burden. They shared their belongings with other Christians, with widows, and with the poor. They preached the Good News of Jesus Christ everywhere they went. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they healed people and delivered them from suffering. All of this they accomplished even after being beaten and jailed for their faith. Only in the Spirit's power and with a burden for others did they fulfill their ministry.

I ask you today, do the spiritual and physical needs of other human beings burden you? Until we pray to love those who are hurting, until we open our eyes to recognize the needs around us, and until we tear down the walls that isolate us from other human beings, we will remain comfortable and allow the ministries of Christ to go unfulfilled.