Thursday, September 23, 2010
Are you doing the Lord's work? Or are you doing your thing for the Lord? There is an important difference.
A calling faces a present need in the Body of Christ which has been impressed upon your spirit and which cannot be denied based upon personal limitations or opportunity. If the Lord wants to use you He will give the irrepressible impression and everything else. He is pulling the instrument from the tool box. He is wielding it. The instrument may take no personal credit. Indeed, wants none.
This calling will also be subject to change at the Lord's will. The instrument MUST remain teachable, listening, humble, undaunted by adversity or temporary set-back. Ready also for new marching orders. Look at the battles faced by a Moses or Barnabus or Wilberforce or Brainerd.
Now compare another scenario seen too often in the churches. A spiritual gifting inventory is conducted among promising parishioners. Pastor and other leaders conclude that candidate "Charlie" is gifted and keen in the scriptures and they apply the "teacher" label. They flatter Charlie because they have a real need in this area in a part of their program. Charlie comes to see teaching as a calling and he fills the slot. He also enjoys the "stroking" and the sense of purpose. He is on the difficult edge of spiritual pride and self-actualization. He may stay in that slot for years, as he has been told to do...by flesh.
Opportunities of the Lord's initiation have come and gone. Charlie simply has not been looking or listening. We have here a very real example of the warning given often by Oswald Chambers: "The good may be the enemy of the best."
Of course there is a need to take stock of resources in the church. But I have heard of another approach. Sam, a friend who was once a pastor, has conducted a number of spiritual gift inventories. But the emphasis is all about rendering a service that one might free up other members of the Body to operate in their callings. There is a prevalent attitude of preferring the other and of being willing to take the lowest seat at the Gospel table. (Luke 14:8-11). Sam would also caution that a calling is subject to change at the Lord's will.
Would you want to remain where you are when the Lord and His power have moved on?
Jesus repeatedly stated that He did only what the Father told Him to do, said only what the Father told Him to say. This was worked out in prayer on the nights preceding the many days when Jesus acted with insight, power and effect. The time came when He walked face-up and alert into temple-halls of slander, adversity and treachery. It was ALL the Father's will.
I guess that I am suggesting that time and again you check the purity of your motive, the singleness of your eye. Do not desperately hold on to the opportunity which you have carved out for yourself when the Lord is suggesting another one, great or small.
North Americans with their individualistic and competitive mind-set have a hard time dealing with Oriental models of community, including the Body of Christ. Perhaps some help may be gleaned from a rather pithy piece of scripture:
15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Or look at the New Living Translation:
15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.