Friday, May 21, 2010

Ambition or Mission in Life

If there is one clear lesson that all of us can learn from the recent devastation that struck our neighbours, it is about the brevity of life. Which one of us can tell how much more time we have left on this earth? We can make plans for a long life but we have to live with the fact that life can be short. This truth makes it compelling for us to live and make our days count for something.

If only annihilation faced us beyond this life, then our choices are easy. Just eat, live and be merry because after this we cease to exist. Some do believe in this reality which is why they live for themselves grabbing and exploiting all that they can. We Christians, however, know that there is a different reality for us in eternity and that is fellowship with a loving Heavenly Father. So, knowing this is just a temporary holding area for us, we too should make our days count – benefiting not ourselves but the Kingdom of God. It would indeed be a sad day to stand before the Lord and be ashamed of the missed opportunities of service and obedience that came our way.

A book I once read had this question to ask, “In life, do you pursue an ambition or a mission?” It is a question worthy of our self-reflection. Although the two may fit together at times, I think ambition refers to doing what we want while mission refers to doing what God wants.

Mission means focusing not on ourselves, which ambition does, but on how we can serve God and others, as God wants us to do. Mission is being God- and others-centred. It means being sensitive to the needs of others around us. Sometimes, meeting those needs may even cause us some discomfort and personal loss. But we should do it anyway, because it is what God wants us to do. We should expect from God situations like these, situations that will test our faith. If we respond in obedience, our faith will grow stronger. If we respond by compromising our faith, we slide farther and farther away from God.

I believe this is a Kingdom truth - when we do things we are not naturally inclined to do, we come away changed, and for the better. Further, we will praise God for that change because we would have done something we ‘naturally’ would not do. This is because God’s grace is at work. When we cooperate with His Spirit in performing others-centred acts regularly, we will be changed to having an others-centred mentality that is able to do Kingdom acts ‘naturally’. A shepherd’s heart and a servant’s spirit will come ‘naturally’ to us.

Every year we can thank God for the past blessings of being able to give and work towards his Kingdom’s agenda. In the rest of the year ahead then, let us ask God to help us to be wise in our priorities. With only one life, our resources of time, energy and possessions are indeed important, not only to us but also to God. Let us then invest them in things that have eternal consequences, not in things that may seem important to us but ultimately be trivial from a Kingdom perspective. May God grant us the grace to know the difference as we echo the words of the Psalmist, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

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