01 Aug Fear and Desire
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, famously said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.” I have always loved that quote. There is something about the clarity of what is needed to change the world that speaks to me. It seems so simple.
I think we like the idea that the kingdom of heaven is unreachable. I know it sounds weird to say that, or it may make complete sense to you. If it is hard to reach God’s purposes, then it is okay if I don’t try too hard because the goal really is unattainable. I can feel better if this world looks nothing like heaven, because that is too much to ask of me and you. But…is it?!
What if we start our day, not with a defeatist attitude that we cannot make a difference, but with the attitude that I can shake the gates of hell today? What would it look like if we said, today is the day I can help bring the kingdom of heaven near? We have a simple formula to do that, and we just need to follow it.
We learned in our “Jurassic Park” message that sin is not something we try to contain and keep in a well-built preserve. No. Sin has to be rooted out and destroyed. We have to treat sin with respect and realize only God is capable of defeating sin. You and I can do that…we can realize the impact sin can have, and we need to call God in to help us fight it. We can use our brothers and sisters to help us, but we fight it with everything we have. That is the first step.
The second requirement to shake the gates of hell and bring the kingdom of heaven is to desire nothing but God. We do this by seeking God from the beginning of the day to the end. We ask for God to direct us at the beginning of the day, to sustain us during the day, and to empower us for the next day. That is how we desire nothing but God: we work in our jobs to glorify God; we love our spouses and friends the way Jesus told us; and we raise our children and mentor others selflessly.
What do you fear? What do you desire? It doesn’t matter if you are a pastor or not, we each have different answers to these questions. If we can commit to answering those questions together, agreeing to unite for the sake of Jesus, something will happen. The gates of hell will shake because the number of occupants will decrease, and the kingdom of heaven will come near as we experience God, not just one day of the week but in every moment. We can do it…with God’s help.
Blessings to you,