Recently I watched part of a Mark Driscoll sermon in which he talked about his early days in the church. As a new believer he didn’t know much, but God had shown him enough that he knew he needed to read his bible and that he needed to be part of a gathering of believers. At one of their meetings they had a “sign up Sunday.” Different bible studies were talked about and offered . . .different opportunities to serve in the church were highlighted . . . and people were invited to sign up. And so Driscoll did . . . for everything! This full-time university student, who was working to put himself through school, signed up for multiple studies, a small group, mid-week children’s ministry during the ladies’ bible study, and Saturday morning grocery delivery to elderly shut-ins.
You listen to this guy, anticipating the conclusion of his “I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to sign up for everything” days, and you’re thinking, “Burn out!” . . . this guy’s going to warn us about taking on too much and burning out. Uh, not so much. Instead, this was his conclusion, “And it was awesome!” Through engaging in the church and serving the church, Driscoll says that he fell in love with the church.
Now, not many of us are Mark Driscoll’s in terms of mental capacity and physical stamina, but it makes you wonder what the “secret sauce” is, such that “walking in a manner worthy of our calling” results in “Awesome!” rather than burn out. I think a clue is found in something I read in Romans this morning . . .
But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:6 ESV)
In Romans 7, Paul speaks to those who grew up with the law and the crushing weight of its condemnation of sin. But when these law-raised people become born again believers, they died to the old man and the old ways. Just as a widow or widower is released from their marriage vows when their spouse passes, so too, when the old man was pronounced dead through the work of the cross, they were released from the bondage of “have to” . . . and raised again in the new way of “get to!” And I think that’s part of what allows a young Mark to invest so much and end up at “awesome!”
The new way of the Spirit is the way of response . . . not requirement. The new way of the Spirit is more than just our discipline, it’s the way of His divine dynamic in our lives. Less about our sense of duty and more about His grace producing in us a sanctified devotion. We attend meeting . . . we serve . . . we seek the kingdom not because some new form of law demands it, but because a new Spirit-infused nature desires it.
To be sure, we need to be wise stewards of our time . . . and thoughtful managers of our physical capabilities . . . but whatever we decide to do for the kingdom it should be because we “get to” and not because we “have to.” That’s the new way of the Spirit. The written code, and even the unwritten code, is no longer what drives my “to do” list. But Christ living in me through the blessed Spirit, draws me in and forms within me a desire to pursue the things of heaven . . . a longing to worship the One who alone is worthy of worship . . . a heart for the people of God . . . a willingness to serve where He’s pointing me to serve. Looks different for each brother or sister in the Family, but when we’re serving in the new way of the Spirit . . . when it’s no longer about what we “have to” do and more about what we “get to” do . . . then, to quote Mr. Driscoll, “It’s awesome!”
Awesome by His grace . . . Awesome for His glory. Amen?