Choose your own mountain

In his sermon, the preacher told the audience that he was ready to take on several challenges for glory of God. He told them that his last child was going away to college soon and that he’d asked God to be able to finish preparing his son for the big change coming his way, and then he said;

“…after that I am open to anything….If God wants us to move to Africa or South America to medical missions; I’m there. If he wants me to drop my nice healthcare company job and go into some full time ministry; let’s do it! If he wants us to go and teach or train and mentor at some Christian college to encourage students to look for a God-thing to do with their lives and move to some un-churched, non-Bible belt places so that God can use them to plant and evangelize and serve in those places, then I’m up for that. If he says, “Tom, come back to Maine. There’s still stuff I want you and Jeannie to do there;” man, we’re all over that mountain! If he says, “You know, now I need you to sell that big ol’ , kid-empty house and move into some inner-city ministry dwelling, which means you might have to take a pay cut, but you’ll be better able to take the gospel and authentically live it before the very folks that Jesus came for, the ones who are poor, who are beat up, who are hungry, who are scared, who are defeated: Tom, this is where I really now need you.” If that’s my mountain, then here we go.”

The mountain that the preacher refers to is a metaphor for a God-honoring activity that challenges and shapes the course of the life of a follower of Jesus. It’s taken from the King James version of this story in the Old Testament.

As I listened to this litany of God-honoring activities, I asked myself, “Why would God not want the preacher to do any one of these things?” Think about it for a moment: which one of those activities is God against? None of them. Every one of them would be pleasing to him, especially done with the enthusiasm that was evident in the preacher’s voice and demeanor. Let’s assume that God does not “call” the preacher to quit his job and move to South America to do medical missions, but he does it anyway: would God really refuse to allow anyone to come to faith in Jesus because the preacher was doing a God-honoring service to which was not called? Where’s the logic in that?

As I see it, God saves us and sets us free in Christ to do good works. He give us some principles (i.e.-“Do unto others….”) and some specifics (i.e.- feed the hungry, visit the prisoners etc) and then lets us decide what we’ll do. We’re free in Christ to choose our good works and to make plans. That’s what Paul did. He made a plan to preach Christ in places where no one else had done it. He prayed for “an open door”, meaning opportunity. Sometimes the Lord opened a door and sometimes he closed one, but he never told Paul to change his plan, to quit preaching.

Waiting for God to tell us exactly what to do is a bit immature on our part. Think about it; do you want your grown-up children calling you every morning with questions like, “What should I wear today?”, “How should I get to work this morning?”, “How much money should I give the homeless guy who washes my windshield when I stop at the red light?” God is the perfect father. He’s told us what pleases him. He even sent Jesus to model what pleases him. Now we are free to do as we’ve been told in Scripture and to follow the example of the One and Only Son. So, instead of waiting for God to give us a mountain, we need to choose one for ourselves and ask God to give it to us.

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