This is a day to indulge my inner thoughts. It is hard not to get depressed from all the negativity in the world ... another beheading -- this time in Oklahoma!; the stock market dropping; the increased warnings about Ebola and terror attacks; the enmity between political parties and social ideologies; the trend towards human/computer integration. It's like looking for a ray of sunshine in the midst of a thunderstorm. Yet I remain optimistic, knowing that this world is my temporary residence. I am occupying my special place in this world until I am called to my Heavenly Home.
Does that mean that I am just taking up space, proudly wearing my mantle of "Christian", and counting down the days until I receive my angel wings? Or should it mean that I am busy and engaged in my purpose for being on this earth? As a Christian, I know that I am to be showing Christ to this world; maturing in my faith and producing fruit for His Kingdom. But if you're not a person of faith, then what is your purpose? Why are you here, and what are you doing while occupying your space?
I recently read a sermon by a Mr. James Dearmore, an African missionary for over 49 years. This particular sermon was preached in 1982, but its message is just as profound today. Mr. Dearmore's message centered around the fact that within a hundred years or less, from the time of the birth of Christ, the gospel had been spread into all of the civilized world. A lot of territory had been conquered by the time that the Lord stood on the Mount of Olives just before His ascension. Mr. Dearmore's question, at the time, and mine today, is this: How much territory have I conquered for the Lord while occupying this particular position in time and place? And even if you are not a Christian, my question remains the same ... How are you occupying your space on this planet, and what is your reason for being here?
The word "occupy" has so many meanings .... as to "occupy" a house (inhabit); the door "occupied" the whole wall (filled up); to "occupy"one's mind (interest, entertain, divert); and to "occupy" a foreign land (seize, capture, conquer). It obviously means more than just sitting in one spot, counting time. And it certainly doesn't mean focusing on all the events and people and information that the world throws at us.
It's really very simple ... for me, it is to tell others about the Source of those gifts. That's our responsibility; to tell others. I must confess that I used to feel inadequate when witnessing face-to-face. I envied those who seemed to be able to effortlessly tell a stranger about the Good News of Jesus Christ. Maybe because my salvation came late in life, (and is still a work in progress), I am passionate about seeing that others don't waste another minute! But I kept trying. I learned to sense when an opportunity was present, and to gently encourage discussion. I also learned when to back off and let someone approach me as the Holy Spirit moved them.
I also quickly learned that these efforts will render opposition from those of this physical world, as well as the spiritual. Yesterday's beheading in the Homeland should make us all aware that Evil is intensifying. But we must not complain, or lessen our efforts to spread the Word. The apostle Paul was shipwrecked three times, beaten with thirty-nine stripes several different times, stoned and left for dead outside Lystra. The Christian martyrs in today's Middle East are suffering crucifixion, beheadings, rape, and mass executions. I am well aware that we, here in the U.S., will not be exempt from suffering for our faith. Indeed, Christ told us that we would suffer for His name's sake. The question I ask myself is, "Will I be considered worthy to suffer shame for His name?"
It is time we, in the comfortable Western world, realize the purpose of our lives. We have not been left here to live a happy, relaxed and safe life. Yes, if you are a Believer, God wants us to be happy, but He could take us to Heaven where we'd be happy forever ... yet, He hasn't. Obviously, we're supposed to be doing something while we're here. So what is our purpose while we are "occupying"? Our only reason and our only need to be on earth after we're saved, is to occupy till He comes, to be His witnesses. And that word "occupy" is a verb! It implies action! Finding peace and forgiveness is great, but witnessing should be our real motivation and goal.
The rest of the world will tell us otherwise; that we should be concerned with gaining profit and worldly things. If you don't know Jesus Christ, you might be agreeing with that statement. But I beg you to reconsider ... what will be your rewards for living such a life when you die? Do you know what happens that next second after your last breath? Do you think there might be something more worthwhile to leave as a legacy than paper money and "things"?
To my fellow Christians, I would tell you to think about your legacy, too ... live boldly in your witnessing, and don't worry about what the world says of you, or of the forces that will come against you. When people see me, I don't want them to see fear or hesitation. I want them to see someone who is eager to share the reason I have such hope and peace and joy in this crazy, messed up world. I want them to want what I have, and I want to fulfill my purpose to the fullest. Join me!
Acts 22:15 "For you will be a witness for Him to everyone of what you have seen and heard."