IF YOU ARE NOT INTENTIONAL ABOUT MOVING TOWARDS GOD, YOU WILL GRAVITATE TOWARDS YOURSELF.
So, what does it mean to be intentional with God? I remember when I used to go to the water park growing up. One of my favorite things to do was ride on the lazy river. You know what I am talking about. You just jump on top of a donut shaped “floatie-raft-thing,” and do nothing. Just ride the current. It is easy, relaxing, and requires me to expend zero energy. It is awesome.
Now, it is great to ride the current of the lazy river at a waterpark, but it is extremely alarming when we just sit back and ride the current of our surrounding culture. To be intentional with God means we get out of our “floatie-raft-thing” and start moving against the current with all of our might. You see, riding the current requires no change and requires me to expend zero energy. I just ride along. Pushing against the current requires I take certain measures. You can’t just ride against the current. This is what it means to be intentional.
ARE YOU RIDING THE CURRENT OR PUSHING BACK AGAINST IT? THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION GOES ALONG WAY IN DETERMINING WHETHER YOU ARE GRAVITATING TOWARDS GOD OR GRAVITATING TOWARDS YOUR OWN SELFISH DESIRES.
But how do we intentionally draw near to God and push back against the current? Well, the good thing is there are many ways to be intentional with God, but the bad news is we have to actually expend some energy and DO something. With that being said, I am going to highlight a few important ways followers of Jesus can get out of the “floatie-raft-thing” and swim against the cultural current. Here we go.
1.) Do radical things for God.
The mundanity of life is a two-sided coin. On the one side, God is certainly glorified in every detail of life, even the seemingly insignificant. We must never lose sight of this reality. But the flip side of the coin is this…the mundanity of life often draws us into its orbit and prevents us from ever stepping out in faith for God. Most of the world shuns stepping out of the comfort zone or giving away large amounts of money or sacrificing time for God. Just ride the current.
I have seen this so often in my own life. I get in the groove and start to lose focus on my purpose and mission. I get caught up in just doing another day’s work. Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into years. Nothing out of the ordinary ever happens. What is surprising to me, however, is this…every time I change environments, my focus shifts back to divine matters. I look for opportunities to share with people. I look for opportunities to use my day to the glory of God. This shift reminds me that the mundanity of life has a tendency to draw me into its orbit and take off the lenses of Jesus.
As followers of Jesus, we must be intentional everyday about looking for opportunities to show Jesus to the world. This is not to say mundane activities are bad or evil. It does mean, however, that we must never allow mundaneness to drown out our focus and vision on the lost and hurting. It is time for us to start putting on the lenses of Jesus. Each day is an opportunity to show Jesus to a world that desperately needs him. Step out in faith. Stop riding the current.
2.) Take your relationship with God seriously.
Relationships require time and effort to be meaningful and life-giving. No worthwhile relationship has come to fruition without these two things. We invest in relationships with our spouse. We invest in relationships with our children. We invest in relationships with our friends and co-workers. So, tell me, how much do you invest in your relationship with God? Why do we not have an insatiable desire to ferociously pursue a God that is ferociously pursuing us? I am honestly wanting to know. Why do my daily activities supersede my relationship with God? Why do I allow temporary, insignificant things to take up more of my day than significant, eternal things?
If God is who He says He is, investing towards our relationship with God should be more important than the investments we make in all the other relationships we have…combined. Most Christians, however, never take seriously their relationship with God. Reading the truth of God through His word is something that is good, but it is not necessarily something we need to do that often. Spending time in prayer is a good thing, but it is not necessarily something we have to do every day. Maybe once a day in the morning, but that’s it.
Moving against the current means we take our relationship with God infinitely more serious than any other relationship we have. We invest in our relationship with God. We devote time to our relationship with God. We value our relationship with God. Not because we want God to do something for us, but because he is the Almighty God of the universe whose love for you has no depth.
Stop being passive or neutral about your relationship with God. Your Creator desires a passionate, intimate relationship with YOU. Ferociously draw near to Him!
3.) Take the mission seriously.
The Great Commission is to make disciples, yet most Christians do not look at The Great Commission as a command. Most Christians view making disciples as optional. “Hey, that’s a great suggestion, Jesus. I tell you what…if I have some extra time throughout the course of the day, I will try to make some disciples. But if life gets busy, I know you will understand if I put it on the back burner.”
If we are going to push back against the cultural current, our mission must be CENTRAL to everything we do. It must be central to EVERY decision…EVERY action…EVERY thought.
4.) Cut activities and entertainment from your life that are not glorifying God.
This is where I will lose some of you. Up to this point, most of you have probably been saying, “Preach it, Frank.” But this one is going to hit close to home. Like maybe in the gut. I only know because it hits me there often. Listen, I am not advocating sitting at home on your couch and never leaving the house or never turning on the tv or owning a smartphone, but we are greatly deceived if we believe God is pleased with many of our entertainment choices. We often watch, listen to, or pay a premium price to go see movies that glorify all types of sin. Listen to what Kevin DeYoung said recently:
“Are we any different than our culture? Have we made a false peace with ourselves whereby we have said, we won’t do the things you do or be as sensual as you are, but we will gladly watch you do them for us?”
Again, I am not advocating abstaining from all forms of media, but are we really so deceived that we believe we are free to watch and listen to whatever we would like, as long as it is in the name of entertainment? My family has two filters that we use when making decisions about media. I will quickly give them to you.
FILTER #1: Flee entertainment that exalts, glamorizes, or makes light of sin.
“Sin by itself is not the problem. The Bible is full of rank immorality…but the Bible never dulls the conscience by making sin look normal and righteousness look strange.” -Kevin DeYoung
Think about the shows you watch, the movies you see, the music you listen to, etc.? What are those things glamorizing or exalting? Here is the thing: we cannot avoid sin. It is unbiblical to say you cannot watch or see a movie or show because the movie or show has sin in it. The Bible is saturated with heinous, despicable acts of sin against God. Sin is not the issue. Here is the issue. Glamorization and exaltation of sin. The Bible NEVER glorifies sin. The Bible NEVER makes light of sin. THE BIBLE NEVER PAINTS VICE WITH VIRTUOUS COLORS. The same can’t be said about much of the media we consume. You are deceived if you believe it does not have an impact on you.
FILTER #2: If you would not do it yourself, you should not watch it or listen to it.
Let me show you how desensitized we have become. Tell me this…would you allow a half naked guy or girl to walk into your house so you could stare at them for three hours? THAT WOULD BE ABSURD. Would you allow a couple to have sex in your house in front of you? Oh, wait a minute. Most of the movies we watch do not actually SHOW any nudity. Alright, would allow two people to come into your house and make sexual innuendoes, moving around under the sheets and making strange noises? STILL PROBABLY A NO. So how is it any different when somebody records it and we watch it? The answer is they are no different. We can try to justify it if we want, but the reality never stays the same…it is no different. We have become numb to the venom we are ingesting.
Let me challenge you to stop riding the current and start swimming upstream. Be counter-cultural. Be intentional. Be different. Intentionality is the catalyst for transformation. Intentionality is essential for an intimate, meaningful relationship with God. He deserves NOTHING less than everything we have. And most importantly…if we fail to be intentional about drawing near to God, we will only create a stronger force field around our own lives.