Friday, May 28, 2010

Get out of the saltshaker...make the most of what's next.

Matthew 5:13-15//Math. 28:18-20//John 10:21//Acts 1:11

If you aren't changing the world you are wasting God's time.

Three Cautions for 2010 Graduates:

1. You are not as smart as you think you are. A youtube video does not make you an expert. Today you are ready to conquer the world, but you can't even balance your checkbook. God is going to put into your life many people who want to invest in you, encourage you, and instruct you. Mentors, professors, and guides who have traveled the road that you are on and can help you navigate it successfully. A recent study showed that young people 18-25 spend almost no time with people over 30, they surround themselves with each other and then reinforce their limited understanding about the world. If you are serious about being who God has called you to be then you have to heed the scriptural mandate to embrace learning from those who are older than you. Sure, you may not agree with them, they may seem out of touch, but they have an array of life lessons they can share with you, relational skills, and experiences that could inform and shape you and allow you to expand your worldview, but you have to be willing to learn.

In Jesus' day this would be the time when you would choose a rabbi. Somebody to walk with, learn from, and follow for up to fifteen years. Learning does not stop with a piece of paper, learning takes place until you die. Learning isn't a phase in your life, learning needs to be your life. Either you are learning or you are dying, that’s it, your choice. The pace of change in our world demands that you keep learning, that you learn from those ahead of you, older and with more experience. That you learn from people beside you, your peers and friends. That you even learn from those behind you, those younger. I would not be able to use my cell phone or work Facebook if I wasn't willing to learn from those who are younger than me.

2. You have far more opportunity than you can imagine. You are the most connected, diverse, accepting, and courageous generation in history. You have at your disposal the ability to make contact with people around the world at a touch of a button. You are not linear thinkers, which really drives your parents crazy by the way, you think in webs and networks, in relationships and interrelationships, in spirit as much as in fact. Most of you have more technology in your pocket than was available during the first manned moon landing. Do you think that God has placed you in this time in history for your entertainment? Opportunity is not opportunity until it us used to improve the lives of others. If it is selfish, it is greed and consumption.

Sure you have challenges, challenges like the AIDS pandemic that is ravaging 2/3s of the world, wars over oil and ideology, the erosion of the Christian faith as a set of precepts universally agreed upon by culture. With each challenge is the opportunity for you to decide whether you will be part of the solution, or be part of the problem. Being salt calls you to solve the problems!

3. You have a divine calling upon your life that God has uniquely placed within you and will lay out for you, but you don't get to know it all at once. I want you to notice that I said calling, not destiny. We have some sort of warped "Star Wars" idea that we have a destiny. The idea of destiny is rooted in Greek and Roman mythology and has no scriptural foundation. Calling, however is uniquely biblical. God is a God who calls God's people to do incredible and impossible things. You have a calling, it challenge that God will unveil to you to do something incredible and impossible, but it won't be easy. In our world of EasyMac Christianity, we like everything in bullet points and Sparknotes, but that isn't life, that isn't a calling, that’s a bad term paper. Life is a process of encounters with God, revelations from God, and challenges laid out by God that can determine whether or not you live a life of meaning or a life of meaninglessness. Here is the thing, you will have to choose. Some of you will take the easy road, not rise to the challenge, not be willing to do the hard work of changing the world. You will complain and whine that life is tough and that it’s not fair. But some of you, maybe just one or two, will accept God's challenge for your life, you will launch out in bold spiritual adventures. Sure, you may fail, everybody fails, but if you aren't failing sometimes, you aren't trying anything that is God sized!

You need to be in the world. You can't change the world from your safe Xian bubble.

Three kinds of spiritual callings your generation is being called to commit to:

The Missional Calling: serve the poor and hurting unconditionally. So often the work we do with people who are hurting has an agenda driving it. We don't care as much about their pain as we do convincing them that our way of life is right. We aren't interested in feeding their children; we just want their children in Sunday School. Did it ever occur to you that Jesus' most powerful moments of ministry were in the marketplace, at the seashore, in the streets? His healings were rarely in the synagogue, the church of that day, they were usually in the streets. He didn't call his disciples off of comfortable pews, he called them while they were working, collecting taxes, mending nets, working hard. God help a church with soft hands and hard hearts!

The Monastic Calling: live simply and reject consumerism. You are not what you buy. We have let culture tell us that we are defined by what we own, by what we purchase, by the car we drive, the clothes we wear, the house we live in. Do you read the Bible? When Jesus sent disciples out, he sent them out with empty hands and open hearts. No extra shoes, not extra coat, just the faith that God had called them to do a great work. Some of your parents will have to rent U-Hauls to carry your junk to school in a couple of months. The things you have to have. Then, when you get there, you will go to Target and buy more stuff, cause that stuff isn’t enough stuff, and you must get more stuff to go with that stuff. Then you will cram it in every corner and cranny of your dorm room and complain that you don't have enough room, so you will go rent a storage unit to put the stuff in that you don't need right now, then you will forget you have it and go buy--you got it--more stuff.

The Mosaic Calling: embrace diversity with intensity. Quit hanging out only with people who affirm your worldview and engage people who will challenge you. I remember when I was studying Social Work that it dawned on me, that I didn't really have friends as much as I had a support group. I only associated, invested time with, and developed "friendships" with people who affirmed my worldview. Jesus had a word for people like me, hypocrite. You know why we only associate with people who affirm what we think? We are afraid. What if they are right, and I am wrong. What if my worldview is messed up and I discover that there might be another way of looking at the world. Or worse, what if I don't like their ideas but I learn to love them as a person? Can you really be friends with somebody who you disagree with?

I have for you a ridiculous gift, but one I hope you will take to college with you and put on the corner of your desk. Sit it on your dresser, put it in your medicine cabinet. It is salt, it is you. Salt in a saltshaker has untapped potential, on graduation day it will be your turn to get out of the saltshaker and make a difference. God grant you the desire to follow Christ wherever you are lead, the wisdom to hear your calling, and the courage to get out of the saltshaker and shake things up!

21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." John 10

Why are you still sitting here?

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