A passion misplaced?
"Is our passion to be used misplaced? Skewed a bit? Do we long to be used more than we long for God to move or for people to be saved? It's hard and complicated because these things are intimately woven together. But I can see how we would twist the passion for the advancement of the gospel into something self-focused.
We focus a lot on how I am doing, how I am reaching the nations, what great things God is doing through me. All good questions to ask, but at the same time I'm beginning to question the motives for that focus. How are we making the fulfillment of the great commission about us?
Well, the answer is probably: in a lot of ways. I think, though, that focusing on how God is or isn't using me in all my potential, as I see it, may be a degree off course. Yes, God PROMISES that He has prepared good works for us. He says it is His delight to use us. He even asks us how people will come to know Him if we do not step out and speak? All true things, and a message still deeply needed for believers today (me included). But the rest of the Bible seems to focus a lot on what God is doing, what He is saying, His will, His decisions, and HIS salvation. It is not our right that we would be given this ministry of reconciliation. It is a gift. It is not our right that God would use us to change lives or alter history. This is first and foremost, always has been and always will be, God's war. We are unfathomable blessed to 1. Be on this side, and 2. Be able to join the army.
So before you complain that God isn't using you enough or doing enough in your ministry - ask yourself, who's ministry is this? Who is power? Who is God? And who are you? We desperately need wisdom and patience and humility along with our gift of passion."
- An entry from my journal last week
My team and I have been discouraged at different points during this trip about what God seems to not be doing. It's caused us to ask a lot of good questions, and in asking those, the above thoughts were something I came to understand in my own heart.
Additionally, I read John 3:22-36 yesterday and was touched by the message of that story. In it, John the baptist's disciples come to him complaining and worrying about how this rando Jew (Jesus) was stealing all John's ministry. They said to him, "Rabbi, tht me who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." [Can't you just hear the the deep concern, worry and misunderstood passion?]
To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven."
The note in my Text says, "The words are true of both Jesus and John (and of everyone). Both had what God had given them [no more, no less], so there was no room for envy."
John goes on to say, "You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens or him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less."
This encouraged and convicted me to really think on where I have been placing my greatest joy. Is it in my own ministry? My own success? My own perceivable usefulness? It should be - needs to be - in something much more constant than that. My joy, and complete joy, needs to be in the simple, yet profound fact that I know Jesus, and that He knows me. That is where it was created to be, and the only place it can truly be filled.
I have realized that we have been placing our joy and hopes in the wrong places. We, unconsciously, have been placing our own agenda on God, and waiting to see Him fulfill our expectations. Teammates have been discouraged as we hear news from neighboring summer m-work trips where 20 or 30 people have found Dad. This focus is the wrong one. We both have what God has given us. There is no room for boasting not envy, for all is a gift from Dad, and all is for Dad. As John said, we need to wait and listen for God.
In coming to these realizations and this confession, we have already seen God heal our spirits, empower our ministry, and answer our calls. Yesterday we saw our very first person PRC! (Pray to receive Christ.) AMEN!
In our morning prayer meeting today we took time to dream big and pray with boldness. Our unanimous prayer requests and dreams for our final week of min. were these:
- For each team member to see someone PRC
- to have 15 south Asian students join the movement here and plug in to Text studies
- that 5 people from our summer trip commit to one or more years continuing to labor in this city after graduation
I'm excited for God to show up and continue to challenge us in this last week!