Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Land of Opportunity - Knowing Your Boundaries

My church has a Wednesday night teaching ministry called Equipping University. We offer a variety of classes, most of which are theologically oriented, some are missions or ministry oriented, yet others are geared toward living the Christian life. I've always been drawn to the theology and evangelism classes. However, most of what is taught are things I already know, so it's come to be more of a series of refresher courses than anything. However, this semester I've started attending a course on establishing personal boundaries. This class helps students understand what we are responsible for and what we are not.

I've heard many Christians bemoan the spiritual state of the union of the United States. Many of these same people also bemoan the spiritual state of the "Church" in the United States. I hear such things commonly uttered as the following:

"If people would only turn back to God this would be a great nation again."
"The Church needs to stand up for what is right."
"If the Church hadn't let them take prayer out of the schools..."
"We need to elect godly people to the highest offices of the United States."
"We need a revival in the Church."

These comments are well and good, but combined they don't make much sense. I want a country that's nice to live like any other. I want my family to be safe. I want to have all kinds of opportunities to do the kind of work I love and the freedom to pursue my happiness and comfort.

The problem is this: God's people, whether the Hebrews as we read of them in the Old Testament or the Church, has never thrived well spiritually in such an environment for any significant amount of time in history. Where the living is good in this world, the concerns for the Kingdom of Heaven wane. While all things are possible with God, He is most glorified when His people demonstrate faith, hope, joy and love through hardship. It's not important the material gifts that God gives, but the spiritual gifts.

We can tell people the truth of God, but we cannot make them accept it. We can pass laws in the government, but we cannot make people follow them. Our actions and speech affects other people, but we cannot be held responsible for their actions. We can be responsible to someone else, but not responsible for someone else (I'm not talking about our young children). That's the first rule of setting good boundaries. I learned that in my class.

Furthermore, we cannot reasonably expect to grow the church in faith and complain about ghosts of persecution. It is typically persecution that purifies the church. Who do we fear? Do we fear those who would persecute us or the One who gives them the power to do so? The One who gives them the power to persecute us is also the one who is strengthening us through the ordeal. He also suffered persecution to the point of a horrible death.

I have prayed for opportunities to serve our Lord and He has opened up several doors in a very short period of time. There's no way that I can do all of them and each one has difficult hurdles that must be overcome. Three involve full-time missions overseas. Two involve staying here, but effectively leaving my church to serve in another, keeping in mind that I have some ministry there already.

One practical application of boundaries is in being able to say no, which I must do to at least 4 of these opportunities. I think God is trying to teach me something about boundaries. More importantly, I think He's trying to teach me how to better trust all of my opportunities to the One who is truly in charge.

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