I wonder whether you recognise the following lyrics:
“Is it true today, that when people pray, cloudless skies will break, kings and queens will shake…. I’m gonna be, a history maker in this land.”
For those that don’t know or need reminding, the song, History Maker, written by Martin James Smith of Christian supergroup Delirious? was – and maybe still is – sung with impassioned abandon at churches and Christian festivals around the land. The fact I remember doing this myself says something about the inherent catchiness of the tune, I think.
This song is systematic of a line of thinking prevalent in significant parts of the Church today; a line saying that if we really trust in Jesus then we really can achieve amazing things for God. We’ll spread the truth of the gospel message to far flung places around the globe, run a charity helping orphans in Eastern Europe, make it to the top in our career of choice, have a best-selling album, etc. Whatever the particular thing is, we’ll be part of an unmistakeable movement that transforms the world around us.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
While it’s true to say that some of us will do one or more of the labelled ‘amazing things’ listed above, the reality is that the majority of us will not. We’re not “gonna be history makers in this land”. Maybe we’ll remain in what we, the world, and maybe even parts of the Church, deem relatively mundane jobs and existences. We’ll be IT professionals, administrators, teachers, stay-at-home parents, caretakers, retailers and office professionals of various kinds. We won’t ever ‘make it’ in the world’s eyes, or in the view of our friends, family or maybe even Church. The thing is though, I think that’s ok. In fact, it’s great.
Why do I believe this to be the case? Well, we need to ask what exactly it means to do amazing things for God.
I believe that we often forget that our core goal in life should be to grow in Christ-likeness (Colossians 2:2, Romans 6:13-14, 12:2) making disciples of him (Luke 24:44-53). In other words, God has put us where we are today according to His absolute sovereignty, good purposes and for us to glorify Him (Ephesians 1:11, 1 Corinthians 10:31). Yes, our role and life circumstances might change, and yes, it’s good and right we seek to use our gifts to glorify our creator (1 Peter 4:10), but we have to be clear that God, in His infinite grace, may not call us to things we may have expected, things that don’t look good per se, or things that on the face of it are quite boring. Make no mistake, though, whatever others might think, they are good works created for us before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10). That really is amazing.
Twenty years of faithful service as a Sunday school leader – that’s an amazing thing. A life-long faithful marriage – that’s an amazing thing. Raising a family in a godly manner, despite considerable financial difficulties – that’s an amazing thing. Sharing the gospel with your unbelieving colleague for the past 10 years – that’s an amazing thing. I hope I’ve made my point. Amazing things to God might not look particularly spectacular and may like a mustard take a long time to see fruition – fruition we might not even see ourselves, I hasten to add (Matthew 13:31), but be encouraged, God alone, by His grace, performs these works though us and despite us (Philippians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 15:10, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
I don’t know about you, but this truth is a real challenge to me. For when I apply this truth to my own life it makes me face the reality that my aspirations and dreams might not come true. God’s plan to conform us to the image of Christ and to glorify Him in preparation for eternity might not involve what we think it should. This leads us to another great truth; wherever we are in life, whether in triumph or tribulation, our contentment should come from our status in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8). And when we stop to think about what the blood of Jesus has achieved for us and reflect on the mind blowing awesomeness of being righteous and perfect in God’s sight (Romans 3:22), shouldn’t we be led to ask why we’d want to seek contentment anywhere else?
Yet for me the great sadness here is that so often I don’t feel content. I seek contentment in my life circumstances and become bitter and envious when I see others doing what I deem amazing things. I feel God has somehow short changed me. How self-centred! How arrogant!
In light of this, perhaps our prayer should be that wherever we are in life that we’d delight more in our status in Christ, trusting that God is entirely in control and knows what’s best for us, praising and seeking to serve Him wherever He’s intentionally placed us today.
When you think of it like that, why would we want it any other way?