Tuesday, June 11, 2013

South Africa and the Sustaining Gospel

On July 18, I will be boarding a plane and leaving this country for the first time in my life. I will be crossing the big blue ocean heading for Johannesburg, South Africa. I have a whirlwind of emotions over it, but I am mostly excited for this opportunity and I cannot wait to see what all God is doing and is going to do in the lives of the people there we will serve.

...But why am I going?

After reading Follow Me by David Platt, I developed a clearer understanding of my purpose for missions: I don't want to ignore the biblical command and expectation to fish for men. Christ has transformed my ultimate reason for living. If I was to lose my earthly life tomorrow, next week, next month, I don't want to be remembered as someone who was kind and sweet or someone who makes good grades or someone who dresses nice. It would be nice to be remembered as those things, but ultimately I want to be known and remembered as a follower of Christ. And that means I must follow where He leads me. 

I know that God is already there ahead of me and has so much in store. It's our job as Christians, all of us, to spread the gospel to all nations (people groups) and I don't want to be a spectator. I want to be on the front lines, and I am thankful that God has given me that passion. I want to share with others the freedom that I have found in Christ.

As my devotional book for the trip says: By agreeing to minister overseas, I have made the choice to bring light to a dark world. Also from my book, here is my prayer for the trip: "Lord, give me the strength I need to radiate the light of Your love faithfully so I can help individuals leave the dark side and move into the light of Christ."

I have a list of 5 or so God-glorifying life goals that I keep on a list, and one of them is go on at least one international mission trip a year while also paying attention to missions here at home year-round. So while maybe, yes, I am doing this to fulfill a goal...it's so much more than that! So. Much. I want to help others move into the light of Christ. There is nothing more important than that!

And the neat thing about the light of Christ? Not only does it save us, but it sustains us! This is a Bible lesson I learned from reading The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. Let's take a look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (emphasis mine):

 "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain."

When Paul is addressing the "brothers," he is talking to justified believers. These are people who have already received the gospel- just like many of us. Here is the proof, though, that it sustains:
  • "which you received" -- PAST
  • "in which you stand" -- PRESENT
  • "by which you are being saved" -- FUTURE
I don't know about you, but I find that pretty amazing! Once we have received Christ in the past, we can stand on that Rock in the present, and depend on it in the future. THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO SHARE - BOTH AT HOME AND OVERSEAS. Our HOPE for the future is found only in the sustaining gospel of Christ! That is it. I want to instill this hope into others that Christ might radiate their life!

Christ lightened the darkness in my life, and as part of the 6-week pre-packaged preparation for my trip, I am working on memorizing verses about the light of God. For my first verse, I chose one from 2 Samuel and I feel like it hits the nail on head with my mission before me:

"For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness."
2 Samuel 22:29

He lightens my darkness! That brings me such JOY! Considering how drastically my life has changed over the past two years, I know that I know that I know I wouldn't be where I am today if the gospel did not sustain me. Sure, I'm not an expert nor am I perfect, and I have a long way to go in my walk with Christ, but at least I know that I can STAND on the gospel. Just like 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." I will fail, but His power will rest on me. Even though I will fall, I can consistently depend on Him. I can lean on Him when temptations come my way. I can get to know Him better through my desire to learn more about who He is (important characteristic for the life of a Christian). Most importantly, I can love Him because He first loved me (1 John 4:19), and I can ENJOY living in that love.

Echoing what I stated above, Christ has transformed my ultimate reason for living. So that is why I am going to South Africa, and that is why I will live my life sold out for Jesus and his sustaining gospel while loving and glorifying Him.

Thank you in advance for any prayers as I embark on this journey, and feel free to leave a comment below if you wish!
In Christ Alone!

"I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Isaiah 49:6


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