There was a time in my life I was so discouraged I considered leaving the ministry completely and going into real estate. Outwardly, I was doing all the right things, but my heart had become cold. One day, I was reading about the life of Jacob in the Bible, and suddenly the Lord began to speak to my heart. I realized, just like Jacob, I had messed up. I had been focused on good things, but not the right things. The Lord knew all along that this was just part of the story, and He was so kind in His response to me.
I prayed a simple prayer: “Lord, take eternity and stamp it on my eyes. I want to live the rest of my life knowing that I am not here on earth forever.”
That was many years ago, but I’ve never been the same since. I began evaluating everything in my life based on what those things would mean for others. My wife and I started selling all that we could and sending funds to South Asia for the mission field.
Any time a person has a genuine encounter with Christ and experiences a deeper spiritual reality with Him, that life changes. And that change will mean they become less focused on themselves and more focused on others. Their life will get turned upside down. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they give their house away or sell all their clothes, but their heart will become unselfish and others-centered—for the spirit of Christ cannot be otherwise.
Christ’s love, His concern, His passion becomes ours when we encounter Him. Some of the most moving experiences I have in my life are times of worship. There are times during worship that the words touch my heart so deeply that I cry. One of those songs for me has these words: “When I look into Your holiness, when I gaze into Your loveliness, when all things that surround become shadows in the light of You . . . I worship You.” But what does it actually mean for us to worship Him?
To worship Him with our lives, we have to understand His concern, His passion for the millions who have yet hear that God loves them, that He sent His Son: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . .” (John 3:16).
Isaiah had an experience of being in the very throne room of God, and then he heard, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”
Isaiah responds, “Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
The whole Bible has only one message: the redemption of mankind and God preparing a bride for His Son. When God calls someone, it is never for their own sake alone. He called Abraham to walk away from his home and riches, promising to bless him. But that was not all. God said, “Abraham, I will bless you and I will make you a blessing” (Genesis 12:2-3, paraphrased).
Moses had an experience like few others. The living God spoke to Him through a burning bush. The result of his incredible encounter with the Living God was a passion to give the rest of his life to deliver God’s people.
When Christ spent three and a half years training His disciples, it was not so they would become super-spiritual people. No, He was preparing them to follow in His footsteps to give up their lives. Christ came to seek and save that which was lost, and He did that by shedding His blood on the cross. And He said, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21).
Anyone in the Bible who met Christ, or who met God, like Isaiah, and experienced a deeper understanding of Him, the next thing that happened was that they became broken-hearted for others.
Think about the names of so many who have walked before us in knowing Christ. Consider Andrew Murray, Amy Carmichael, Sadhu Sundar Singh, Saint John Chrysostom, William Carey, Saint Anthony of Egypt, A.W. Tozer and Mother Teresa. When you read about their lives or you read their words, you can recognize that these people are marked by the nature of Christ. There is something about their lives that is so other-worldly. Our hearts respond by saying, I want to be like this person. They lived out their lives for others. They not only knew Christ, they lived like Him.
I doubt anyone has not read in the news about the Orthodox Christians who are being beheaded in these Middle Eastern countries for refusing to deny the name of Christ. How are they able to make this choice for Christ? They do this as their eyes are fixed on their Lord. They see a better, heavenly country (see Hebrews 11:16).
The more we know Jesus, the more we become others-centered. Let our prayer, our energy, our passion, our dreams, our time be evaluated by the reality that the more we know Jesus, the more His love constrains us to give ourselves away for others that they too may know Him and grow in His grace.
Jesus said the most commandments were to,“love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). Our greatest enemy is not the devil out there. It is true he is out there, but the greatest enemy is inside of us. It is our own self-centeredness. Jesus came to set us free from being self-centered. As Paul said, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25).
My prayer and hope is that we experience Christ, and as we truly see Him, we will become less selfish in our understanding of the world.
My precious brothers and sisters, do you know Him intimately? For His sake and for the world, it is something that you and I must pursue daily.
*(“Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs” is a famous quote by Jonathan Edwards).
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