Monday, July 23, 2012

Wide Awake the Live Blog: Chapter 6

The Activist

One of the truths that J. R. R. Tolkien believed is that humans are "sub-creators."  While God is the ultimate creator of the universe He has designed us with a wonderful capacity to create in this world.  In fact to be creative is part of who we are.  Erwin McManus opens this chapter by writing; "This is both your birthright and your destiny.  To create is in your essence and is essential for living the life God created you to live" (p. 154).

Part of what it means to follow Jesus is to use our creative abilities to build for the Kingdom of God.  We are not to be selfish in how we use our talents, but we are to use them for the benefit of other people.
The world, as Paul describes it, will rob from you your uniqueness.  If you conform to it, you will lose your soul.  You will lose yourself.  To conform to Christ is to allow the One who created you to shape your character.  It is here that God begins to reclaim, redirect, and unleash your creative potential.  To conform to Christ is not to surrender your creative potential but to fully actualize it (p. 157).
To conform to the pattern of the world is to lose our uniqueness.  It will limit our options and seek to make us like everyone else.  To be transformed into the image of Jesus frees us to be who God created us to be.  It allows us to use our uniqueness in this world to usher in God's Kingdom into this world.  As Erwin McManus goes on to write; "Jesus clearly expects us to be fully engaged in this life and the creation of the future" (p. 160).  The only way we can do this is use our unique talents creatively and productively as we seek God's Kingdom.

One of the ways God directs us to use our talents is through the passions and dreams He has placed on our hearts:
A God-inspired dream isn't just an opportunity; it is a calling.  Your dreams are not simply a source of inspiration but the stewardship of your life.  If you choose to dream with your eyes open, you will eventually have to start creating.  Jesus warns us that we don't want to be found empty-handed.  We all have something to bring to the table (p. 161).
We have something to offer! God has created us with great potential, even if we don't see it.  Part of our responsibility is discovering, developing, and using the potential God has placed in our lives.
There are some things in life that are simply out of our control.  There are also things that only God can do for us.  There are things that happen in life that all you can do is pray and wait because they're out of your hands...We are responsible to be prepared.  We need to live our lives with the knowledge that one day Jesus will come back and evaluate our lives and take into measure the opportunities given to us.  There are things that are not only in our control, but also for which we are responsible and will be held accountable (p. 163).
This means we can't simply drift through life.  We need to take initiative and use what God has given us, whether those blessings are talents, resources, relationships, or even opportunities.  This is what redeeming the time is all about (Ephesians 5:16).  Creativity starts with being prepared.  If we do not take the initiative to use the what God has blessed us with, then we will our potential slowly seeping away.

Here is an excellent truth worth remembering; "You have to make choices today that prepare you to be rightly positioned tomorrow" (p. 165).  Our lives are the culmination of the choices that we make.  If we want to use our talents to build for God's Kingdom, then we need to begin to make the right choices right now.  When we make the right choices now we will discover that we are in exactly the right position when the opportunity comes our way.

This paragraph hit me hard:
Eventually, we realize that success isn't gained by talent alone.  Some people have less talent and are far more prepared; they have far more discipline and foresight.  Some people do more with less than others do with immense amounts of talent (p. 167).
I know one of the mistakes that I make is to think that if I just had a little more talent, or even a different set of talents, I would be successful.  The reality is that if I do not use the talents that I do have more or different talents would not make a difference.  I have to take responsibility of what God has blessed me with and take the initiative to use those talents for His Kingdom.
You are a creative being.  You are at your core a spiritual being, and your spirit is by nature creative.  Creativity is the natural result of spirituality.  This is way every human being has creative potential.  Yet your potential will only be fully expressed in relationship to the creative God who made you creative (p. 173).
This is why it is so vital to remain connected to God through Jesus.  The only way we can use our talents and resources creatively in a way that builds God's Kingdom is by living a life of faith.  We may not know how it will all turn out or even the best way to start, but when we trust Jesus he will get us to the right place.

Another great paragraph:
If you're living in a way that honors God and taking great risks in pursuing great dreams, and you fail in the attempt, do you really thing God is going to slap you around for that?  Of course not.  God is going to celebrate your effort.  God does not measure success the way we do.  We look at winning as the measure of success, while God looks at whether we lived.  To those who are faithful to what they have been given, to those who use well what has been entrusted to them, even more will be given (p. 175).

What matters is whether or not we have been faithful.  That should take some pressure off our shoulders.  While we should try to succeed, what ultimately matters is not our success, but the faith we demonstrate as we seek to succeed.  It is the faith rather than the success that is important.

Here is what Erwin McManus means when he talks about creating:
Every time you refuse to leave the world in the condition it is in, you are re-creating.  Every time you extend yourself to make someone else's life better, you are a part of the creative process.  You are adding beauty to the most important of all canvases. You are both artist and art form.  You are a work of art and a maker of art.  You are created to be creative (p. 176).
To be creative is to use the talents and resources God has blessed us with to bring redemption into this world.  That is what we are called to do.
When you begin to create the life or your dreams—or maybe better stated, when you begin to live the life that God dreams for you—you take responsibility to prepare for the future.  This is your life and on one else's—so own it.  It's your responsibility to maximize your capacity, to take an inventory of who you are and to understand how God has designed you, to harness all the talent and skills God has placed in you, and to recognize that you will not be measured against anyone else's life but your own,  Then you are ready to embrace your role in human history to create a better world (p. 179).
This means we are called to live for more than ourselves.  We are called to be stewards of what God has placed within our care and properly use those things for His Kingdom.  As we do this we bring redemption into this world.  In other words we begin re-creating this world with God.

One last thought to leave you with:
To live wide awake is to take responsibility for who you are and all the talent and potential that resides within you.  To live an awakened life you must have a sense of urgency fueled by passion and the courage to take initiative.  When you become an activist you become proactive.  To create you must act (p. 185).

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