Thursday, December 09, 2010

For such a time as this

I recently heard a sermon reminding me of an important truth. God doesn’t need any of us to be God. If God had never made man, He would still be God, and not be any less. God doesn’t need our service, or ultimately our worship. He is so incomprehensibility great and so totally holy, encompassing the entire universe and acquainted with the smallest of details. God is God. Period.

The teaching continued. God doesn’t need your ministry. God can raise up 100 people to do your ministry. God is much more concerned about your relationship to Him that your work for Him. Being is much more important than doing.

I believe that God is far more than I will ever understand, or could ever know. I need to be reminded that God cares who I am more than what I do, even what I do for Him. Another sermon that I heard at MBI’s missions conference about the older son in the Luke 15 parable hit home. Am I more concerned about what I can do for God than just enjoying God, and being with Jesus?

Having said all of that, and having agreed with most of it, I find that I have this gnawing need to react to it. Yes, God wants me to be, but real action and decisions are also part of obedience. And a pretty big part of it, methinks.

We read about Esther and her response that she was put in the palace, during a time of testing and difficulty, “for such a time as this.” We read that as if Esther is unique, that maybe she understood her purpose for her life, at that moment, but the rest of us can just sort of float. Vaguely sort it out. Wonder what God might have, maybe, at some point in our lives.

That’s a bunch of bunk. Esther’s case is not exceptional, it’s normative. Esther didn’t realize she had to act because of some sort of special divine relation. She was prepared in advance, she was looking for God’s voice, expecting it, wanting to fulfill her purpose.

What’s more, she would have sinned if she wouldn’t have acted. Can it be a sin to NOT act? According to James 4:17, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Could it be that it’s easier to blame excess of activity for all manner of ministry ills, when maybe lack of action is an even bigger culprit. Maybe the church and its leadership is carnal not because of doing too much, but because we lack the courage to step out in faith and act. It’s easier to do nothing. It’s easier to be spiritually asleep. I can BE a spiritual vegetable, feeling good about the fact that I'm not "do" oriented, all the while missing opportunities to contribute to the kingdom every single day.

Could God raise up 100 people to do what I do here in Mexico City? Well, maybe, but He hasn’t. And even if He would have, there is no one with exact set of experiences and gifting that I have, or that you have. So even if God could, He hasn’t, and probably won’t, put someone exactly like you or exactly like me in this place at this time. Who has been prepared for such a time as this? We have. We have. I don't want this to sound like pride. But think about the alternative. My life, and yours, just really doesn't matter at all to God. Nope, that can't be right. Everything matters. Reminds me of a T.S. Elliot quote.

God seems to be really keen about preparation. The preparation time for most of us can last three of four decades. Maybe longer. But the times of action and obedience are strung all along even the prep time, reminding us of a supernatural undercurrent on which we swim and surf, of a near-audible drum beat that we follow. Yes , we are called to be. But we are also called to act, and to act passionately and purposefully, full of faith and risk and confidence and humility.

We are and we act with a barely disguised smile. We smile because we know something that most people don’t. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. We have already acquired enormous treasure, although many might consider us poor. We have won the world, which makes us willing to lose it. There is no condemnation. There is a call, a purpose, a reason, a spice to life.

We act because we have a mission. The power is not ours, but riding the wave is exhilarating.

For a good article on grace and legalism, click HERE.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I think I'd put it this way - God doesn't need us. But He has chosen us. And that means we can't boast, but it also means we're pretty special. :)

Regarding "being" and "doing", I wrote a series on my blog a while ago arguing that both being and doing (and results) were important to varying degrees, but none of the three are the most important. That can be found here under "Best of Devotional & Bible".