Spiritual “free agents”?

Last time I began telling the story of how I was elected to a ministry at my church…while absent!  It created a crisis of faith in my life.  I struggled with the decision to serve in this capacity.

The first thing I realized was that I had been operating as a Christian “free agent”.  Though I regularly attended church, I was not very accountable to it.  Though I regularly enjoyed the service of others, I was not engaged in the ministries of the body. I loved the freedom of being able to wake up on Sunday morning and decide if I “felt led” to go to church!  I loved to be able to go away on any given weekend, with no personal concern for the needs of others in the church.  But deep in my heart I knew I should be part of the team of people who were serving. A verse from Paul’s letter to Titus was like an arrow to my heart:

Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs so that they will not be unfruitful. (Titus 3:14 emph mine)

I needed to learn to engage! So I agreed to give it a trial run, for the remainder of the school year.  Do you know what happened?  I found gifts from God that I had never experienced before.  I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit working through me in new ways. 

After serving like this for about a year, two ladies came up to me one Sunday and said, “Dane, we believe that God is calling you into pastoral ministry.”  Tears fill my eyes as I remember these things.  Do you know what I told those ladies?  “I haven’t sensed God leading me in that direction. And I do think He would have spoken to me about this first.”

I was a great American, self-led and ruggedly independent!  But God was teaching me about servanthood and how He uses His people to teach us to engage in ministry.

Beloved, let me ask you a serious question.  If everyone was serving in the ministry life of the Christ’s body at the level you are, what would the church look like today?  What would your workplace or neighborhood look like?  What would the Sunday school or small group program look like?

I believe there is a wealth of untapped ministry potential among us!  There are wonderful gifts of God resting unused in many of your hearts! And I feel the Lord saying, “It is time to engage with God’s purposes!”

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10)

I will finish today’s post with a caveat.  Some of you are driven by a performance-based mindset that is induced by a lifetime of guilt-motivation.  I have no intention of fueling this aberration of God’s purposes in your life!  We should not serve for the purpose of trying to earn God’s acceptance or to manipulate people into thinking more highly of us!  There is absolutely no need to improve upon Christ’s work at the Cross for us! 

Rather, serving is about yielding to the humility of Christ and allowing His heart of love to move us into God-glorifying, others-edifying action. If you’ve read the last two posts and had thoughts like, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m a poor excuse for a Christian.  I need to do so much more. I just seem to never quite measure up….”, then you are afflicted with a serious religious disease called “legalism” or “religiosity”.  And you need some real help.  Seriously, I mean it. Send me an email and let me help you get some help. I’m serious.

But most people in our culture are not afflicted with this disease anymore.  We’ve spent too much time being fed an “entitlement” philosophy. Serving is not something you do.  It’s something professionals do for you (for pay).

As we will see in the next couple of posts, Jesus knew how to say both “yes” and “no” to human needs.  There is so much to learn bout service and ministry from our Lord’s life.  He learned to get His gifts in gear the same way we have to!

Stay tuned.

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