(Photo: Courtesy of Liberty University)
Derwin Gray, lead pastor at Transformation Church in South Carolina, spoke to Liberty University students about leading a limitless life and fulfilling the God accomplishments they were created to achieve for His kingdom.
Returning to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., to provide the convocation message last Friday, the author of Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future, and pastor of a multi-ethnic, multi-generational church that was recognized in 2012 as one of the top 100 fastest-growing churches in the United States, encouraged students to overcome their fear and break through the negative labels that are preventing them from being all that God has created them to be.
Gray told The Christian Post that before he shared his message with the 10,000 Liberty University students, he prayed, specifically, about what he was going say.
"What I wanted to put on their hearts is that there are God accomplishments with their names stitched on them for them to go and get for God's glory," he said. "But if we allow the afraid label to paralyze us, to sabotage our destiny, those God accomplishments will go unrealized."
In his inspirational message that was part of the Limitless Life book tour, Gray affirmed that everyone is "significant in God's redemptive story."
"You play a vital role in God's kingdom," he continued. "As you accomplish them [your God accomplishments], His kingdom moves forward, and you begin to accomplish things that you never, ever thought you were allowed to dream of."
Gray commented that students live in a world in which they believe that if they're not famous, somehow they've failed. This is a misconception, he said, because God works in people's lives during their moments of obscurity.
"Attempt things that only Jesus could get credit for accomplishing," he told the students. "Be an example to the unbelieving world."
Gray told CP that his challenge to Liberty University students was not to do what many older Christians have done, and that's to "sabotage their destiny collecting trinkets and toys, and not living a life of adventure where Jesus actually has to show up."
He emphasized that by following Jesus Christ, He will ask believers to do things that require His presence, His power and His provision.
"I think so many Christians have their lives all together. Everything is so safe, everything is so compartmentalized that there is no need to live a courageous, limitless life, because we're not attempting anything that would require it," he said.
"I think the first thing is to know the heart of God and to respond to His grace. I think in our hyperactive evangelical world, we're looking for the next big thing, the next big experience. And Jesus has said, I want to show you my Father's heart of grace. And so, as we see the heart of God, what matters to Him begins to matter to us."
Once Christians begin to have a relationship with God, according to Gray, He will strategically place believers in positions where He and He alone can be the hero of their stories.
"My God accomplishments and the students' God accomplishments can be different, but they're part of the same story," he shared with CP.
Christians don't have to travel far to live a courageous life
According to Gray, God has placed Christians in a position to be courageous today, wherever they might be; and a one-week mission trip overseas is not a requirement for them to have a positive impact on their community, and effectively transform their lives and the lives of those around them.
"It's not that we need to go to Cambodia to get this adrenaline rush. Believe me; God, in His sovereignty, has put enough adventure here in the United States. That adventure may be deeper intimacy in your marriage. It may be teenagers walking in sexual purity. It may be businessmen and women walking with integrity. It may be saying enough to certain forms of injustice. And so, adventure and the opportunity to be courageous is all around us," he affirmed.
One example Gray provided is what Martin Luther King Jr. described as being the most-segregated hour in the U.S.—Sunday morning worship services.
"When I became a Christian, it became absolutely crazy to me that people would fly all the way to Africa, to a different ethnic group, and every Sunday is the most segregated time in the United States of America," he explained. "What right do I have to go to Africa and tell the people of Rwanda that they need to be ethnically together, when churches in America are the most-segregated institution in the United States."
"I think it's easier to go somewhere for a week, versus build authentic relationships over a lifetime."
God uses ordinary people
During his convocation message Gray pointed out that God uses ordinary people to achieve extraordinary tasks because, he said, it's ordinary people who populate the world.
Using King David as an example, Gray noted that God was training the young sheepherder during his many years in obscurity.
"David, before he ever fought Goliath, he spent time in obscurity with sheep. And while being in obscurity with sheep, God was developing and honing his skills, so that he could slay Goliath."
He continued, "And I think a lot of times, we as Americans despise those obscure moments and seasons in our lives when we're tending, so to speak, stinky sheep. But it's in those moments of obscurity that we're being refined, and we're being challenged and we're being transformed. And so, often times, a lot of people never get to slay Goliath, because they don't value the times in obscurity tending sheep."
The greatest challenge for young adults
Even though the world changes, Gray believes that "the evil one" doesn't change, and continues to use the same methodology, he just uses different tools.
Gray said he doesn't want to see students "surrender their divine birthright to an 'American dream theology'" – getting the cars, the house, chasing after things they cannot afford, collecting some debt, and leading a safe life of mediocrity.
"None of those things, in and of themselves are wrong," he explained, "unless those things become the idols and obsessions of our hearts."
He then emphasized that Christians must utilize the best gifts that God has given them in order to display His kingdom to a world that needs to know the King.
The Bible scripture that encapsulates his book, Limitless Life
Gray told CP that if there's one scripture that that emphasizes the message of his book, it's Ephesians 3:16-21.
"What I love about it is that it was written by a man (Paul) who was a murderer, and God's grace transformed him to become a missionary, which every Christian is a missionary."
Click here to learn more about Derwin Gray.