Oui. Sí. Ndiyo. 是. Yes.
Oui. Sí. Ndiyo. 是. Yes.
It’s the affirmative that can be said many different ways, but ultimately it leads in the same direction: Jesus. Close to a year ago I wrote a blog post about ‘A Room Full of Yes’ that told the story of students who had said yes to Jesus’s invitation to a Global Urban Partnership. This story has continued throughout the year, and was especially relevant over the Christmas holidays as students from across the country gather for “Kingdom Calling 2011″. The conference was aimed at graduating students as a way of helping them discern what God’s call is on their lives as they depart university. The overwhelming message that kept ringing over and over and over again was “Yes. Just say yes to Jesus.”
So often people think of their calling on a pragmatic level: What will I do? Where will I do it? How much will I get paid? Who will I marry? And so forth. Beyond that, the next level includes goals and passions: What ambitions do I want to see come to fruition? What is my life’s aim? What skills do I have, and how can I use them? These are good levels to consider, but ultimately they are not our truest sense of calling. Our truest sense of calling is simply to love Jesus solely and wholly, and after that all other priorities come in line.
This seems like a simple truth to adhere to, but the opposite is the current reality. It is far easier to tell God what we want to do with our lives, and ask his blessing, than to choose to be his disciple and follow him into the myriad of risky adventures he invites us in on. The gospel of the university seems to be to choose a path of education (of our own volition) and see that path to its obvious conclusion: bachelor, masters, Ph.D.; the job at the firm; the salary; the condo/apartment/home; the vehicle; and the three-week vacation; and most importantly, control over these circumstances. Now, Jesus doesn’t say that any of these incidentals are wrong per se (save, I’m willing to say, control), but he does call us to follow him on the narrow path. So often in the past, when I have invited students to risk something to follow Jesus, they have responded with a ‘No’ because the invitation takes them off the predetermined ‘path’, or because the cost seems to high.
It is sad to see students say no, but this sadness is put into proper perspective when some say yes. I have had the wonderful opportunity to see many students say yes to invitations from Jesus in this past year, and it’s been invigorating! Some have said yes to leading their campus fellowship. Some have said yes to a Global Urban Partnership after years of saying no. Some have said yes to returning with me this summer to East Asia (one is returning this summer, and staying on for two years oversea!). Some have said yes to the Ph.D. as a place of ministry. Some have said yes to healing in places of brutally painful brokenness. All of these ‘Yes!’ moments have become the true riches that I have come to delight in, and the ‘more-than-worth-it’ rewards to many costly decisions I’ve made to follow Jesus.
Saying yes to Jesus seems like a simple enough posture within Christendom, and yet for many it’s a total game-changer. We believe that Jesus is indeed our saviour, but cling to this belief as a comfort, and not as a marker of lordship. I confess there are days when this is true for me, and I need to choose again to submit and ask for rescue.
I had a quick conversation with one of the speakers from the conference who said that he loved coming to conferences like this because it was for him another moment to examine his life and say yes to Jesus’ invitations all over again. Students aren’t the only ones who need to ask these questions. We all do, he said to me as we watched a room full of students praying with each other, and asking for Jesus to speak to their innermost selves.
Indeed, we all do, and I believe the staff who worked the conference received, on the same level as students, profound invitations to life with Jesus. I get excited about what the future of the church looks like, and the kingdom moving forward in this world, when I see people saying yes to Jesus. It’s risky, extremely costly, and totally worth it. But seriously, where else can we go? For Jesus truly has the words of life, and the invitations to this life are great!