If you’ve been a follower of my blog for long, then you’ve probably come to realize how part of my heartcry is to grow as a “minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me…to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations…” (Colossians 1:25-26 ESV).
However, in this day and age, arguably the hardest time to pastor in church history, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to believe this desire can be wholesomely satisfied.
Let’s face it: people are busy…very busy. And though many can supply a résumé to support the fact, it’s not like a piece of paper can mask how we prize personal ambitions over fellowship. Within Christian community, many claim to value balance, yet wear loaded planners like a badge on the sash of misaligned priorities, oblivious to the growing discrepancy between what is hoped for and what is realized. And the most alarming part isn’t necessarily the divide itself, but in the lack of awareness to it. Yes, fostering God-appointed places of influence should have a high place on the ladder of Spirit-led responsibility, but one should question if this crosses an idolatrous line when we rationalize the résumé into an excuse for unauthorized withdrawal.
Whatever the case may be, I get the feeling God isn’t smiling over the fact we’ve made it hard to connect with Him as well as other believers. I get the feeling it doesn’t amuse Him how we talk to others about our own busyness, as if the other side is foreign to the idea. And I get the vibe He isn’t applauding our consolidating tactics, where we substitute modern technology and online interaction for intimate connectedness. The simple truth is if you have a demanding calendar, you’re not in the minority. And as the redeemed church living in a hussle-bussle world, we should be placing a premium on quality over quantity, considering how the Word emphasizes excellence.
Regardless of how we feel about our pace and place, without steadfast prayer, it’s becoming harder to trust these days, not so much in the nature of God, but in people’s response to it, especially with so much ‘dis’ in the world: discouragement, distraction, disapproval, disappointment, discontentedness, etc. As a minister, often times, the challenge to trust God hinges on whether or not people accept His best, and though such a notion deserves correction, I can’t help but want to guide people into a prosperous position, where they can fully know and experience the presence of God, unraveling the mystery of transformation truths.
And it’s here where the temptation to give up is most intense. For I find it incredibly ironic how many believers distance themselves from church community based out of what is becoming a predictable blend of agenda, dissatisfaction and veiled insecurity. I understand and respect decisions rooted in yielded surrender and obedience; however, shielding our own sanctification while thinking church is merely a necessity instead of a privileged priority and mandate is not the answer. It's not about us being satisfied, but Him being glorified. And one of the ways we bring God glory is through the expansion of horizontal and vertical relationship inside and outside the church, even if it costs us convenience. Too many people are separating their interpretation of God's plan for them from biblical community and Christian fellowship; however, the Word doesn't justify hiding behind the gifts of God or living life in a way that reduces God's house to an extra-curricular activity. It's a given we all want to leave a legacy and know our purpose has meaning, but if it comes at the cost of forsaking God's best, then we need to re-evaluate who we're living for and how we're walking the talk.
For people like me, caught between the homebody on my left and the busybody on my right, it helps to meditate on what’s worth adhering to. For instance, community wasn’t designed for us to control or corral, as such responsibility belongs to God and God alone. Contrarily, our focus should center on how we tend the soil of our relationships and arenas of influence. In other words, achieving church community is not about rounding sheep into a sheep pen; it’s about planting seeds in the sheep pen! It’s not about providing a specialized service to a packed out sanctuary; it’s about sowing seeds into the places God takes us, regardless of personnel and statistics.
You see: planting seeds is applied physics in the spiritual – it’s about fostering the potential energy in others to perpetuate a kinetic Gospel. When we plant seeds, we not only acknowledge the providence of God, we extend it. We may not be satisfied by the quantity of seeds we’re given, but this doesn’t change the fact God is enough and His quantities are perfect for every season. At times, we may feel victimized by evasive personalities, flaky commitment and those fluent in undervaluing hearts, but if we choose to dwell on whatever is worthy, whatever is noble, whatever is pure (Philippians 4:8), than we can rest in knowing our calling have everything to do with planting seeds (a.k.a. depositing the greatness of God).
In Paul’s assessment on church community in 1 Corinthian 3, we’re given a snapshot on how we’re to understand our role in preparing the land for a God who gives increase, and the answer can be realized by the overarching themes at the heart of Paul’s letters. Before we can plant seeds effectively, we must first position ourselves to receive openhandedly. Often times, the strongest barriers set up on the front end of what start out as holy pursuits. If we separate our love of daily communion with outgoing encouragement, we risk a depositing source based out of a need for self-edification, as opposed to the heart.
When we receive and stake our trust in God, then we’re essentially believing in His unconditional grace and the freedom it manifests, which ultimately enables us to employ motion to truth and to connect revelation to heart change. Thus, when we stand on the word of 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 (see below), we realize we don’t have to worry about the outcome, because God specifically outlines our responsibilities. And since God allots boundaries to our stewardship, we don’t have to stress about the destiny of each seed’s final destination.
So while it may be easy to ponder the hot trends on people’s radars these days, we can rejoice in knowing it doesn’t define our mission, our value and call to sow light, life and love into the depths of mankind.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. ” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:6-10 (ESV)
To be continued…
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