First the Kingdom 19, Workers together with God
While everything around us seems to be falling apart, we have hope in Christ! That hope is not only in the promise of a better existence after this life, but also of a chance to have a better life now! Jesus came that we might have life and that more abundantly! While everything that can be shaken is being shaken, that which cannot be shaken is the Kingdom of God! We have been considering what it means to seek first the Kingdom of God, and what happens when we do just that!
Many people do not believe that there is much hope for a better life now. Others are determined to have a better life for themselves now at all cost. I submit that your best life now is a life of serving and giving of yourself to the benefit of others. I submit that Jesus has a perfect plan for you and a place where you can serve others for the glory of God and the joy of pleasing Him.
Consider the apostle Paul. What an inspiration he was for scores of generations to follow. His was a life of purpose and a passion to fulfill that purpose. He declared himself to be a fellow worker with God!
How would you like that honor? You do not have to be a missionary to foreign lands like Paul, or the leader of a local congregation, but you do have a purpose for which God has saved you. In that purpose you can have the same level of passion and joy in service that was in Paul and many others who were so touched by Jesus Himself.
First of all let’s get something clear. The man behind the pulpit is not “The Minister.” He and other leaders are called to serve other members in the Body of Christ and to equip them for ministry! We are all called to minister which means to serve. Jesus said that the greater one is the servant of all. Those who have a vision of the kingdom of God begin to see a purpose in their serving that is greater than one can imagine. They see the increase of the Kingdom of God in every act of love, kindness, or encouragement. They see the building up of the Body of Christ as a part of building up the Kingdom of God in the earth.
In Romans from chapters eight to eleven, Paul made some fantastic declarations concerning what God was going to do for people, through people and in His creation. At the end of chapter eleven, he becomes overwhelmed by these considerations and breaks out in praise to God!
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Then in chapter 12 he begins to plead with the church by reason of what has been said before. “I beg of you therefore…..”
These opening verses of chapter 12 are well known and often memorized and quoted. But how often are they connected with the great purpose that was stated earlier? Paul is saying, “Because of the wonderful plan of God for His creation, here is what I hope you will do. Why? Because you have a part in that plan!”
In Paul’s letters there is a heavy emphasis on the sovereignty of God and His amazing divine plan of the ages. Because of this some conclude that there is absolutelly nothing for us but to witness the unfolding of that plan. We could assume this to be so if not for the fact that Paul himself labored consistently and passionately in the Kingdom of God. In each of his writings he also gave equal space to encourage others to do the same in their own capacity and sphere of influence.
Human beings were created by God with great potential. They were to rule the earth by His authority and in His image. They were to expand His kingdom by multiplying and filling the earth with people who also reflect His image. That potential was seriously limited after they sinned against God. When Jesus came He began to destroy the works of the devil who initiated the fall. Christ is our redeemer who is restoring us to our proper place in the universe!
The Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 sounds very much like Genesis 1:26-28 in the sense that the apostles were commissioned to “fill the earth” with disciples of Christ by “filling the earth” with His teachings! God’s Kingdom reign is on the move, and that through His workers — your and I!
At this point I feel to get a bit bold concerning our “do nothing” brothers and sisters in Christ who claim that because we are weak and powerless, God must do it all. Could this be an indication of apathy, laziness or even cowardess on their part? Worse of all it reveals disobedience to Christ who challenges us through Paul to be stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord!
One thing I have noticed in my life: pessimism is the easiest of all roads to take. To see one’s pessimistic view to be realized, all that is required is to do nothing. Weeds do not need our help to grow, but a fruitful garden needs care and cultivation. Those who are convinced that evil will ultimately prevail until Christ comes at the very end of time only have to watch and observe the rising tide of evil, and perhaps complain about it.
However, those who believe the advance of the Kingdom of God from the First Century and up to the present are asked to courageously take part in that advance today! Paul in his letter to the Romans encourages us to worship and serve God in such a way that the will of God is demonstrated through us! Yes, we too are workers together with God!
I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
After encouraging the church to continually surrender our bodies and live a sacrificial life, he gives some very practical instructions to each member of this mysteriously connected body of Christ. He tells us that each of us has been given unique gifts from God that can lift up and strengthen others. In this way the entire body of believers is strenthened.
For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
It is obvious to me that every possible gift is not mentioned here, but some examples are given. In other words, what ever gift is found in you, it is your responsibility to excercise it. Peter put it this way:
1 Peter 4:10:
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
It is important to remember the context in which Peter and Paul were writing. The early church gathering was not simply a place to gather and watch a performance on a stage. Believers usually came together to share a meal, pray for one another and share the Word of God as a family. Today many are realizing that small groups like Bible studies, prayer meetings, womens and mens groups and the like provide great opportunities to discover the unique gifts that each member possesses.
The human body is intricately designed with each component depending upon the other. we need to see today how important each believer is to the other as we build up one another in the love of God. Each born-again believer in Christ is special and important to the health of the whole, and each gift needs to be used for the entire body to grow.
So instead of trying to imitate the function of someone you respect and admire, you can imitate the same passion and dedication to the function God has given to you. In this way, we actually become workers together with God!
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