Legalism vs Love

I have been struggling with purpose, which of course is not a new place for me. A friend recommended I read John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life (Piper, 2003). At the same time I began reading Jen Hatmakers’ Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity (Hatmaker, 2014). Both presented the same message (at least the message I needed to hear) and it came in tandem with very different writing styles. Piper’s, much more theologically practical and Hatmaker’s reaches into a woman’s heart with humor and straight forward practical wisdom; both with a love for God and walk that is transparent in their writing. My take away, again a recurring theme for me, exposes the battle between my legalistic perspective of ministry and the command to love extravagantly and serve with abandon. This struggle has been logistical, partly because I have a frozen perspective of mission and ministry. Piper points out that few are called to full time ministry but all are called to minister.  All are sent, all those called to be children of God have one goal at the center of their existence, as he puts it “make much of God”.  My heart is to do that wherever I am and slowly the shift from old school missions to a missional life is transforming how I see my small world.

So here I sit, on a hill in the middle of a 700 acre nursery (not mine), wondering how I can engage in missional life in this isolated place. I do not have a job. I have been and will continue for about two years to be an online student of psychology. I have limited engagement with people face to face. So how do I answer this call to a missional life, given my environment?  One idea that has come from Hatmaker’s (2014) book is looking at people from a Jesus perspective. When Jesus says to his disciples, when I was hungry you fed me and clothed me. His disciples’ queued ‘When have we done this for you, Jesus?’ His response is when you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me (my paraphrase).  We live and my husband works among the working poor.  They are industrious, hard workers who live and work on minimum wage. The work is hard, yet they show up daily for their family’s survival. We have been the working poor by Western standards, but by global standards, we have never been ‘poor’. The Holy Spirit directed me to meet their needs in a specific area and we have been doing that as a couple. This simple act of obedience gives what Piper points to as ‘fullness of joy’. He says that making much of God, and obedience will bring that place of joy and peace for yourself which is God’s desire for each of us. It’s cyclical as God intended it to be.

If you are struggling with legalism or purpose for your life, if the recent historical events in our country leave you feeling angry or hopeless, I would strongly recommend both books to you. They have been a powerful paradigm shift for me, a work in progress to God’s glory.

References

Hatmaker, J. (2014). Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. Tyndale House Publishers Inc.

Piper, J. (2003). Don’t Waste Your Life. Wheaton: Crossway Books.

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