Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Effective Ministry

When we spend time serving others, we often find ourselves looking for the most productive, efficient, cost-effective means.  We want a powerful program that requires as little effort as possible--because time is precious and the demands of life are great.  My guess is that the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus' day felt much the same way.  The people were many, the sacrifices, rules and demands were great (although many were the result of their own making--ahem!).
When Jesus called their bluff and rebuked them, these leaders wanted a sign--a way to judge His validity.  Perhaps, greedily, they were looking for a new technique or program that would improve their ministry.  What Jesus offered was not some thing, but some One.


In so many ways, we want to be the someone of our lives.  We pray, asking God to fix what doesn't suit us, or change it altogether.  What God has in mind, however, is to clean the clutter of our useless desires and replace them with His own.  His desires, His perspective, His way of thinking.  We can't fabricate God.  But we can, through His indwelling Spirit, know and become like Him, if we trust  His Son, Jesus.  Without repenting of love for myself and and asking Him to take His rightful place, the home of my heart will not change.  I can dress it up with church attendance, generosity, baptism, or any number of religious activities.  But without Jesus, there will be no lasting effect: no effortless love or peace or joy.  No inherent goodness or kindness.  Each thought, each act will be polluted with self: self-exaltation, manipulation and my own personal agenda.  This is what the Pharisees wanted--power to remain the same with an appearance of godliness.
But life with Jesus may not be what we expect: a pretty, come-to-church-smelling-good-and-everyone-will-adore-me life.  We may actually lose the appearance of godliness for a time (the mess tends to gets worse before it gets better). And the somethings of our life, the circumstances and outer array, may not change.  But once the Someone in charge does, life is very different.  The inside of my house is clean.  I can serve Jesus and go about my business with a song regardless of the circumstances.  I can kneel at His feet and weep.  I can cry in His lap and be comforted.  He is there.  Will always be there.  I may not look as "put together" as some.  I may not be as efficient as some.  My methods may even lack snaz and pizzaz.  But He is there.  And I have joy. And love for others.  And I become more and more like Him from the inside out.
If you are serving the people of God instead of the God of people, stop looking for what God can do.  Look at Who He is.  To follow Jesus is to be quiet, humble, gentle, loving, kind, and good, valuing the will of the Father above the will of myself. And that is so very opposite of who I am on my own.  "Oh, to be like Jesus."
“Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust.” (Matthew 12:18-21)

(Thoughts after reading Matthew 12.)

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