Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Measure of Success

"To be made in God's image means that success in this life is measured by our investment in horizontal relationships."
- Greg Ogden, Discipleship Essentials

Did you ever notice how at the beginning of Creation, God spoke to Himself as a plural party? "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). I've grown up thinking about the Lord as Triune - Father, Son, Holy Spirit - without stopping to think about the implications of the Trinity. God is in community with Himself. Greg Ogden writes, "From all eternity God was a being in fellowship. God is his own community."

We are created in the image of God. Imago Dei. Yet we are not in community with ourselves; we are only one being. We need each other to fulfill our created design. We were all made different because it is within the differences that we find our completion. I am incomplete on my own.

This is huge news for a person naturally inclined towards hiding away. My disposition does not lend itself to community. I decided around age 19 or 20 that I had all the friends I really needed and could keep up with, and I was done. I could make transient friends here and there, but I was okay. I didn't need anyone else.

Now, I've realized that this attitude was unhealthy and unBiblical, but the habits are still there. When I have a day to myself, I stay inside. I don't talk to anyone. It's "me" time.

This morning, I read Ogden's writings on being made in God's likeness, and God really stirred me. "Success in this life is measured" by relationships (???). Wow. That is so counter-cultural, it makes me want to dance! Honestly, how are we generally told that success is measured? A bank account with plenty of savings. A house. A well-paying job.

Now, I don't have any of those things, and the worldly pressure has been tempting me greatly in the last few weeks. With a baby on the way, I feel like my life should be more in order. Doubts and questions keep flooding into my brain: How will we provide for the child? Did we do it all wrong? What happens if x, y, z? Why can't we have better-paying jobs? What if we made a mistake in our "careers?"

God has laid many of these fears to rest, quieting them in His way of reassuring me through others. God will provide for our children as He has provided for us. He has called us into ministry. We are surrounded by a community of believers.

We are surrounded by the church.

And I realized that I needed to stop measuring my life by the world's standard, and instead spend more energy investing in relationships. So today was one of intimacy -- praying and interceding for others, writing e-mails and cards, talking on the phone, eating dinner around people. I willingly threw myself into the lives of others, and God provided me with abundant, glorious peace and joy.

"The promise of Jesus isn't a promise to individuals; it's a promise to the community... Ultimately, the only social security I trust is that which comes from the covenants made between friends and family members committed to caring for one another, through the provision and by the grace of God."
-Ruth Valero, Living in God's Future, The Simple Way


  1. Amen for being more concerned for living for Christ than how the World wants or expects us to live!!!

    I love you!!

  2. Amen for being more concerned for living for Christ than how the World wants or expects us to live!!!

    I love you!!


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