The theme of our time here in New Zealand is boldness... To be bold with the gospel of Christ. But it seems that I have adopted a different theme. One of the things that I have been praying for quite some time is that God would help me to be humble. Where I may seem like a fairly humble person on the surface it is not so in my heart... at least not apart from constantly catching myself in the midst of prideful thoughts and prideful motives.
I read a verse in 2 Cor this morning and as I thought about it I became broken over my sin.
“And even if our gospel is veiled it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this age (satan) has blinded the hearts of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.(This next part is what hit me) For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake.” 2 Cor 4: 3-5
For us as Christians to be able to proclaim “not ourselves” but Christ, we can not be wrapped up in ourselves at all, but only in Christ. In my pride I often convince my self that Richie is more important than Christ. With this unspoken thought in the back of my mind I go onto the campus of Otago and try to build relationships with students... and I make contacts and get phone numbers just like my team mates, but if I dig down deeply into my heart I must confess that I didn't love those students for Christ sake and for the sake of the kingdom, but for the glory of Richie. You could reword the verse to in 2 Cor to better fit my thoughts if it said:
For what we proclaim ( at least in my heart) is not Jesus, but Richie Lisenby as Lord, with Jesus as your servant for Richie’s sake.’
So many times in ministry I end up doing it for the glory of me, not the glory of God. Even when my motives seem pure and I really and truly feel broken for people and long for them to know the Lord, somehow a Richie centered thought creeps into my mind... “I must be a pretty Godly person to care about these people I don't even know.” It makes me realize how warped my view of God’s kingdom is... You don't realize how wrapped up in yourself you are until your summer job is loving people. I am glad that God is breaking me of my selfishness and of my pride... but its definitely not fun.
But the great thing is that even in my sin... my pride and selfish motives, God can still work for the good of His kingdom. He can do a mighty work through a week jar of clay like me.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-10