Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I have been chosen and appointed by God to bear fruit (John 15:16)

I was in the middle of a two-week Practicum for my graduate degree in Christian counseling when the Lord decided to powerfully intervene in my life.

The presenter was encouraging us to ask the Lord to show us our "old name."  He was referring to any label that had been slapped onto our soul...maybe early in life...that had continued to dog our steps and keep us back from experiencing the full realization of our new identity in Christ.

I thought about people whom I had counseled and how they had been labeled as "ugly" or "stupid" or "can't do anything right" or "wish you had never been born" or...  Though I was very aware of the rejection that I had suffered as an adolescent, I wasn't sure what my "old name" might be.  So I prayed about it.

Several days later, it came to me.  My "old name" was outcast.  Boy, that really hit the nail on the head.  That's exactly how I felt for years.  I felt like nobody liked me; that I didn't belong; that people didn't want me around.  And so I retreated into my own world.  It felt safe there, I guess, but it wasn't fun.  And, at the core, I was pretty lonely.  Sadly, though I had some casual friends, my closest friend was my dog.  If I wanted anyone to hang out with, I had to call them up.  Rarely, if ever, did anyone choose to spend time with me unless I asked them.

After figuring out our "old name", the presenter then encouraged us to ask the Lord for our "new name."  He wasn't telling us to try and get a sneak peek at our new name written on the white stone in the book of Revelation.  He was suggesting we ask the Lord for a revelation of our new identity in Christ. 

What might my "new name" be?  The thought really intrigued me.

After some time, the Lord crystallized my thinking and told me my "new name" was chosen friend.

Today's Scripture in context (the words of Jesus) provide the biblical basis for that new name:

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."  (John 15:15,16 ESV)

There it is!  Chosen friend.  All of God's children...including you...are God's chosen friends!  But it was particularly meaningful for me to hear that since I had been (and seen myself) as an outcast for so long.  The Lord even gave me a partial paraphrase of John 15:16, in light of how I always had to be the one to call people up to spend time with them or I would be alone.  God said:

Rich, you did not call me up but I called you up!

Wow!  Thank You, Lord!  You took the initiative with me to be my friend.  You didn't have to choose me, but You did! 

And what was God's purpose in choosing you and me?  So that we would bear fruit...kingdom results... through answered prayer.  What a privilege! 

God took an outcast and called him His chosen friend so that my life could count for His see people rescued from the domain of darkness, brought into the kingdom of Jesus, and set free to walk in fruitful newness of life!

And that's what He has done for you as Christ!

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