Mandate for Living (on The Edge)

Day 2’s morning message by Jeremy Seaward! My notes look somewhat more coherent so here goes!

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

John 12:23-28

This is the mandate for our lives: we are called to bear fruit and make disciples. Like a little seed, he has already given us the capacity and the potential to grow and bear fruit, he has already given us resources to carry out his will. We haven’t been called to an impossible task.

Stop comparing and wishing to be someone else. God made you to be you, to carry out his will. Sure, someone else may be mightily serving God in one area but you can be equally mighty in other areas which you’re just good at. Different strengths doesn’t mean one is better than the other. God needs different people to carry out his huge plan so don’t worry about not having a part to play in it. You just play your part well and do your best.

So how can we live up to do this mandate?

Number one, get a new culture. We need to adopt a culture opposite to the world’s. The world promotes a culture where it’s all about you. We do everything for ourselves, we push ourselves so hard for our own name and our own achievements. In this world, we are so focused in ourselves and promoting ourselves (hint hint social media) that that’s what we invest our whole lives into. We don’t impact other people and leave any kind of legacy. Our lives just kind of start and end in ourselves. They don’t make a difference to anyone else. Life shouldn’t just be confined to ourselves. We can go more and we should go beyond just ‘me’. In that sense, such a self-absorbed life is kind of meaningless and definitely fruitless. Draw this parallel to the seed in the verse. If we cling onto the seed and don’t plant it, we can’t gain real life because we can’t bear fruit. God gave us this life, this seed and we are the stewards of it. One day, we are going to be accountable to how we use this life. It may seem very far away but the day will come in the end. And I’d like to be able to account for it in the face of God. So maybe it’s time to ask yourself: what exactly am I living for? Is it worth dying for? How about investing yourself in someone else, investing in someone else’s growth? The results go beyond physical material achievements. Because you’d be touching someone else’s life. And that’s really something.

I’ve been touched by people who are so humble and don’t think they’re anyone out of the ordinary. They just do what they do so faithfully and it’s just special. You can see these people have gone beyond just thinking for themselves. They care for other people, like really care. I’m amazed by how they do it and, being the one on the receiving end, I can say that it makes a difference. It really does. It’s time to make natural decisions that have spiritual implications. Our priorities show in what we spend our time and money on. We may say we don’t have time to do Bible study but have time to Facebook. That already hints at our priorities. Give up our normality for a new normal and a new culture.

Second, change your environment. It’s not enough to be a power-packed seed bursting with potential if it’s not planted. So be planted. Go out to be planted in a different environment from where you’ve grown. If you grew on a cob, you can’t expect to stay on the cob and grow another plant. You have to be plucked out and planted in the ground. Be planted in a harvest of different people. Get out of your safe, homogenous culture where everyone thinks like you. It’s comfortable and you get along and that’s great, but it’ll mean little to be planted there if you manage to grow at all.

This is something I need to apply to myself too. I had a culture shock entering university after my relatively sheltered experience in my previous schools. I was exposed to people from all walks of life with very contrasting mindsets from me. It was daunting, to say the least, and I felt that it wasn’t my ideal crowd at all. I remembered feeling uncomfortable with these new friends. I wanted to flow with a different crowd of people, not these. So I was a little :/ and I wanted to break into different circles which was also difficult because everyone had more or less drifted and cemented into their own groups. God reminded me, though, that He has placed me in the exact place He wanted me to be in. He knows best and there’s no mistake about His plan. Besides, it had always been something of a motto for me to bloom where I was planted. His reminder comforted me even though I still had zero idea how to communicate and chill around these new people but as long as He is with me, it’s a good enough reason not to run away but to try harder.

Thirdly, lay down your life. Die to yourself. Recognise that this life is not your own, it’s God’s. He purchased it with His own blood so technically, He owns you. Yet, He’s big enough to give us our free wills and not force us into anything. Recognising that our life is God’s is the point we have to reach to be able to change to become more like Jesus, more like the salt and light of the world. If you throw the fruit down in the dirt, it doesn’t grow. Instead, it decomposes and becomes like the dirt. That’s not being planted. Similarly, some people compromise in order to fit in and to share but they do it to the point that their own lights dim. They compromise such that there isn’t a difference between the said salt and light of the world and the others. If you’re going to mingle in a certain crowd of people to share God’s grace, make sure you don’t compromise on your light. Yes, Jesus himself mingled and ate with the ‘sinners’ because He said (and I agree) that it is the sick who need the doctor, not the healthy, that he came to call sinners, not the righteous. (Hence, He called me woohoo) He maintained his light to save the sick. He was and is truly interested in these people to know him. So this is just a reminder. Plant the seed and the goodness in the dirt will come out as fruit and its seeds can also be planted in time to come.

Dying to myself is something I find myself constantly praying. Every time I pray, it’s always “Please help me to be less and you to be more. Help me to pick up the cross and follow you.” because I’m so full of myself. When I think I’m empty, I become so full of myself again really quickly. It’s kind of ego-centric much and it really hinders me from following and taking up the cross. Working on it.

There is actually a second session to Day 2 which I will try to get up as soon as I can! I’ve been a bit thrown off schedule because I’d just come back from a church youth camp which was fiery to say the least and there are a lot more interesting thoughts there too. Also a little behind on WP because I’d finally started a Fanfiction and have been getting really encouraging reviews on that hoho. I’ll be away again for a Christmas holiday so in case I miss you all, have yourself a merry little Christmas~ 😀

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