The ability we have to make a Kingdom impact on another’s life is not entirely dependent on God. It is not entirely dependent on us, either. The Bible gives us a partnership model. What is expected is for the individual to surrender all of his natural instincts, skills, desires and abilities. He does not surrender his discipline or his character, though. He keeps his ability to breathe, eat, sleep and move on his own. He retains his faculties and personality. God is not in the robot design business. He isn’t cranking out ‘yes-men.’ He has always been in the creative business, but only in the sense that we retain our full ability to choose. You want to make an impact on the world around you? It’s a “yes/and” situation.
God provides in every area that we submit. We lay down our dreams, He gives us new ones. We lay down our instincts and gain sharper ones. He gives us new skills…sometimes better versions of the old one and sometimes in entirely new areas. We get new desires from Him, always Kingdom focused and built around the things He loves. This is most definitely a give and take relationship He is asking us to enter into.
The reason I’m saying these things is I find people often believe their relationship with God is just “take.” We get eternal life, peace, hope, the ability to sleep at night, to raise our kids without worry, to balance our budgets…we get a better life. Imagine a conversation with your parents along these same lines: “I want food, a place to sleep, presents on Christmas and birthdays and a car on or before I turn 16. I’d like to go on vacations but prefer you leave me alone to do my thing. I’ll handle school. You don’t need to worry about that. Just leave me alone in general and we’ll be fine.” Who does that? No one in their right mind. What parent would agree to that? Not a single one that loves their kiddo. Neither does God. Don’t be frustrated about your lack of Kingdom impact. Come to Him on His terms and He will do something about it.
The relationship—not agreement, we don’t sign a contract when we come to Christ—He offers us is full of glory and hope, but it is contingent on our choice to move with Him. He will not drag us or coerce us. His heart is full of love for us and that is why He refuses to manipulate us into obedience.
So, what about us? The question is will we move with Him or will we go our own way? Everything in us says it is better to part ways. God says “Give generously.” We say “I will when I’m older and more financially settled.” God says “Love without condition.” We say “I’ll love and hate whomever I choose.” God says “Follow me.” We say “I can’t today.” You get the picture. Until we lay down the desires and instincts, we are born with we will forever be their slave. Jesus says the truth sets us free. The truth is He is the only way. We must come to that conclusion or spend our lives wrestling with meaninglessness.
We desire to have an impact on the Kingdom. Doesn’t it make sense that God sets the boundaries for work and engagement in HIS Kingdom? We do not get to determine what that work will be and how that engagement will function. That is already determined. IF we want to be a part, we must come to the table humbly and with open hands, ready to receive what He gives us. Otherwise, we will have no impact.
Everyone wants to know their life means something. Everyone wants their funeral to be well attended. Everyone wants a Facebook page filled with more than the general “Happy Birthday” everyone else gets. How do we reach the place where we will be remembered? Where and when does Kingdom impact begin to occur. The answer is simple: at the point of total surrender.
The heroes we read about and love in the Bible are there for more reason that good reading. God chose those stories for us to remember and retell because they are the examples He wants us to emulate (or not, depending on the character J). Our favorites are not the ones who submitted for a minute and then fell away. We love to tell the stories of Abraham, Moses and David, not because they were perfect but because they choose to submit to God for the rest of their lives. They moved with Him. We cheer for them because they didn’t give into the evil regimes and because they didn’t give up when the battle was almost over. We identify with them because they mess up a lot and love them because they are forgiven every time they seek the Lord.
You want to make an impact in the Kingdom of God? Get on your knees now. Set aside the desire you have to ask for something. Give up your needs. Just tell Him you’re ready to learn. Say to Him that you are His and you are so thankful that He is yours. Read Psalm 139 aloud and thank Him for everything you know to be true in your own story. Thank Him for putting you here for a purpose and not just to live out your days. Give up the control instinct that runs deep and trust God to lead you well. Do all of this and then repeat it the next day. Linger longer in that place of surrender. Read more of the Bible than you did yesterday. Ask Him for the ability to pray through deeper things than the meal in front of you. Thank Him and then repeat it the next day… This is the life of the surrendered one. This is the life we are called to. This is how Kingdom people live.