Friday, June 5, 2009

I Can't Screw This One Up

In talking about heart issues, I am relieved to find that I only need to worry about my own. I do not need to be mindful of the hearts of others, unless they want to share with me. The extent of this is captured in two passages that I have run across from time-to-time.

Mark 9:38-41, “John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.’”

Philippians 1:15-18, “Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.”

The disciples were concerned about other people’s motives. I see that they have every right. They had left everything to follow Jesus and they were definitely putting in their time. When other people got the fever, they were not really sure about the purity of their works. Wouldn’t that be the hard thing about being a disciple? Eventually, you would have to really trust that once the word was out, Jesus was in control. I am not sure that they anticipated that there would be deeds of power beyond them. Maybe they did not talk about this over their loaves and fish.

Jesus has such a simple response, because He knows who He is. Baby believers are just excited to be part of the discussion, Jesus is awesome and He changes lives, enough said. Then there comes a moment when Jesus shows up…in a big way. Nothing will ever be the same. Here Jesus says, even if they are not completely sold out or prepared for ministry, they will be once they really get to know who I am. Once those people doing deeds of power in His name really understand His power, they will never be on anyone else’s team.

So, they are a work in progress, which does not mean that they are unqualified. It simply means that they have exciting things in their future. Baby Christians are awesome because they have so much energy. We need to let them go out there, like a bunch of kids on a sugar rush, no matter what they know. We need to anticipate with them the miracles of God in their lives.

If they aren’t against us, then they are for us. I just laugh at that. That is so awesome. I worry so often about people degrading the gospel, or speaking ill of Jesus; as if I need to defend Him. He is SO not worried. He is fine about it. We don’t have to get it completely right; we can’t get it right. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. We can’t understand Him.

Not only do we not have to understand Him, Jesus says that we don’t have to speak at all. We can give someone a glass of water in the name of Jesus and He has had the opportunity to show up. Sometimes acts of kindness speak louder than our imperfect words. Imagine if we all acted like Christians and never had to explain ourselves. We would simply win people over because we were so magnetic. I know, some of you already think of yourselves that way.

God is the one who does the work for His own glory. We, with our little human brains, cannot screw up the kingdom by our carelessness, or lack of knowledge. I am so relieved to hear that. I know that I will look back at some of the things that I have written and be mortified. My theology could be lazy, my grammar is probably horrendous. I know though, that I will not screw up the larger picture because of my ability.

Paul takes it one step further and says, even if motives are bad that is not your problem. As long as the gospel is being taught, Jesus can use it. He can transform a poor message into life experience. It is the Spirit that determines all things spiritual for us. So, even if you don’t like your pastor he can still speak truth into your life because that is up to the Spirit. It does mean that it could be a painful process, but it also can be truth. So, try to listen.

Seriously, I once was in a church where the pastor stood up and made the announcement, “If you don’t get anything from my messages, it is your fault.” It was a truly awkward moment. I found it hard to listen to him again without that dialogue box hanging over his head, but now I understand that I do not need to judge his motives…see, everyone can learn.

So the point would be the gospel. It is important to get the gospel out, regardless of the vessel. God can flatten personalities. He can speak clearly and around really poor Sunday messages and power point. He can give you gifted and amazing speakers to sit under…relish in it. If it is the gospel, do not question the motives because Jesus and Paul didn’t. Enough said.

We can’t screw this one up, so let’s be for the gospel, today.

Lord, thank you for the power of your deeds in the lives of believers. We solicit them from You to glorify You. Let us understand You more and be advocates of your gospel for the sake of the kingdom. Use us powerfully.

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