Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Leading with a God-sized Heart - Graham

Graham Bryant (in the back row with a beard) is leading the team in Bosnia. Spring as been a busy time for them. The 'Porn Nation' outreach that has been used all over the States came to Sarajevo - it was the first time it had been done overseas. Graham says, "About 150 students heard the gospel - by far the largest outreach in the 7-year history of the movement in Sarajevo. Many requested some sort of follow-up, but the coolest part of that was our believing students were excited to be a part of the follow-up. They went on many of the follow-up appointments with us and were able to share their stories with the students we met. It was exciting to see our students want to become a part of taking the gospel to the other students of their city. On top of that, we had a team of Albanian students and staff come and go on campus with us for a week. They really took every opportunity to share Christ here. It was especially powerful to hear Albanian believers from Muslim backgrounds challenge Bosnian Muslims to follow Christ."

About a month ago, the girls on the Bosnia team helped put on a women's retreat, gathering students from Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia for a weekend. (Sort of a reunification of Yugoslavia.) "The girls were really amazed to see how intently the students listened when spiritual truth was being shared", Graham writes. "This was a big answer to prayer!"

I think most of us know or have sung Micah 6:8.
"He has showed you, O man, (Women echo: O man)
what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."

This is what is required of us. This is what it means to follow Him. If we are launching movements of true followers of Jesus, this is what we should all look like. I am actually going to take these three last to first, because the progression I think goes from humility to mercy to just acts.

To walk humbly with our God - James writes that those of us who are rich should take pride in our low position because we will fade like a flower. I used the inclusive language of 'us' because we are so rich in comparison to most of the world. Humility says I have nothing except what has come from God above. There is nothing to take pride in. We humble ourselves before Him. It's not about us. We are in desperate need of Him. God dwells with a man who is humble. God delights in a humble woman.

To love mercy - Mercy comes from a big heart toward God. Mercy looks on people with compassion the way Jesus did and moves with acts of compassion that Jesus did. It is both loving the lost and serving the least. Mercy is always interpersonal. Mercy is forgiving 70 x 7. Mercy is like the Good Samaritan who puts himself in harm's way to minister to those in need. It is the fruit of a wisdom that comes from heaven. Mercy does not show favoritism. As pride is the opposite of humility, judgment is the opposite of mercy. Mercy triumphs judgment. And when you show mercy to the least of these, you show it to Jesus. (Matt 25:31-40)

To act Justly - Justice flows from the other side of a God-sized heart. Isaiah 42 tells us that Messiah Jesus would come to bring justice to the nations. Justice is crying out 'thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. Justice is seeing the oppression of people and taking what is wrong and making it right. Most often Justice in scripture speaks to the most vulnerable... the widows, orphans and strangers... those who are rarely experience justice. James says that what God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. The LORD himself goes one step further speaking about David: "He did what was right and just,so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" (Jer 22:15-16) . Justice is at the very heart of someone who knows God and follows Him.

Maybe you have had some of these thoughts: "This is a distraction from our higher calling" or "This is good for some but we are called to something else, something more noble" or "Good Deeds is a good strategy." But what if we saw that if we really want people to follow Jesus this is part and particle of what we call people to do? What if we did these things because that's what followers of Jesus do? What if we saw that it fits in win, build and send? What if we just desired that God would raise up men and women from every nation who would do what He required? Men and women who loved the lost proclaiming the Good News and served the least displaying the Good News?

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