After meeting to worship with my teammates last Friday morning (9/27), I walked through the chilly autumn air to Zvezda, a café with wall-to-wall windows showcasing the main street of Ljubljana. I sat towards the corner of the room, still able to see the street and the entrance at a distance. I began taking out my journal, Bible, devotional, and iPad, eager to start my “Day with the Lord.” I ordered my lemon and honey-infused rooibos tea. I adjusted my chair and sat up straight. I took a deep breath. This is my day with the Lord, I thought.
Sipping the hot, sweet, lemony tea, I prayed with expectation. Lord, teach me what you want me to know. Open my eyes and heart to see what You want me to see. I want to know you better today. It’s just You and me.
As I scribbled prayers in my journal, more and more people began to come in. The once quiet room slowly grew noisy. One man started to laugh very audibly. Why is it so noisy in here? I thought. It was just silent and peaceful. My frustration increased with the noise level. This is supposed to be my time.
And then my selfishness smacked me in the face. Whoa, I actually think that my relationship with God is all about me. But that is a personal relationship, isn’t it?
When I share the Gospel, I always talk about what it means to know God personally or have a personal relationship with God through Jesus. It wasn’t until that moment in Zvezda that I truly thought about the deeper implications of the phrase “personal relationship with God.”
As I thought my about this phrase, my devotional Comforts from the Cross, took me to Romans 7:4. Paul writes, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.”
Those who are in Christ have died to the law. The law no longer has power over us. Jesus conquered the law of sin and death, so we could have freedom in Christ. What a beautiful thought that we are no longer enslaved to the law as a means to earn God’s favor. We have this favor, because Jesus paid our debt. And now, we belong to Jesus, the only One who gives life and fulfillment.
While this part struck me, God put a greater emphasis on the second part of the verse.
“… So that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” I stared at those words. In order that we may bear fruit for God. The more I stared at those words, the more I realized that I was created specifically to bring God glory by bearing fruit for Him.
By God’s grace, I now have a relationship with Him through Jesus. For some reason, I took pride in that, when in reality, I should be humbled. Having a relationship with God is not only for my good, but it’s ultimately for His glory to be displayed and for the purpose of bearing fruit for Him. How selfish I am to think that it’s all about me! God uses those who believe in Jesus as a trophy of His grace to show that He makes dead things come alive, to show His power in being able to change lives and His power over Satan and death, and also to bring others to Himself. This is bearing fruit for God.
This was a wake up call to me. My purpose in life is to bring God glory, not simply to have a relationship with Him through Jesus. So often, my focus is on myself. I constantly obsess about how my relationship with God is doing or how much/how little I’m growing. (I think it’s good to be aware of how you are doing with God, but obsessing over this shifts focus from God to self.) Too often my prayers focus on my needs, as opposed to those around me or those of the world. Ultimately, my eyes are often set on what I can get from God, instead of how I can most glorify Him or share Him with others.
What God revealed to me during my Day with the Lord, which is a day I take once per month to refocus on God, is still an ongoing process. With His help, I’ve noticed a change in my thinking, but I still have to fight against my selfishness constantly. Through this, God has also been opening my eyes to see what He’s doing in people’s lives around me.
A few days after my Day with the Lord, I began to attend a Slovene church. It was amazing to hear Slovene believers singing praises to God in their language. (I even recognized some of the songs!) And it was humbling for me to think that God doesn’t only speak English. It was fitting that the pastor spoke about the difference between living for your decisions now and living for eternity. (We had a someone translating the message into English.) Then the pastor asked a few significant questions to get us thinking.
Are you living for now or eternity? Does your life display the joy, truth, and mercy of Jesus? Are you sharing what God has done in your life?
Jesus tells us in John 15, that as we abide in Him and as we fix our eyes on Him and not on ourselves, that He will bear fruit in our lives. This fruit comes in the form of allowing Jesus to uproot sin from our lives, emanating His love and grace to those around us, and sharing about what He’s done in our lives. This brings Him glory.
So, here’s a prayer of mine this week, that I would shift my focus from myself to God, that I would fix my eyes on Him and what He’s accomplished for me, and that my decisions and actions would bring Him glory.