Thursday, October 3, 2013

Prepared that We Should Walk in Them

If you are a Christian, God has planned good works for you to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). Now there is nothing in this verse that indicates that this applies only to certain important people. Also, there does not seem to be any implication that these good works are complicated to figure out or difficult to find. The implication is that the ordinary person who does what God commands them in their ordinary life is doing those works God has set out for them (Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 4:28). Also, the church is Christ's body, and we are told that every part, no matter how seemingly insignificant, matters (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-13; 1 Peter 4:10,11).

Now we live in a celebrity Christian culture. And it is easy to get the idea that if we are not preaching to stadiums of people or writing books or leading crusades to halt sexual trafficking or, at the very least, a pastor or a missionary, we are not significant. Now I do not want to discourage those who are called to some great ministry or cause. (I am speaking of those celebrities who do something valuable. There are celebrities who are all flash and no substance, and I would not encourage that.) These may be the works that God has prepared for them. But over-emphasizing this type of calling can have a bad effect on believers who are not called to these prominent tasks. They can conclude their contribution is unimportant. They can either become discouraged, feeling that their contribution is meaningless, or complacent, feeling that because they are not an important person, they are not required to do anything. Or they may slog on, doing what they feel God has led them to do, but with a feeling of insignificance. But the goal of the Christian ministry should be to build up every believer to maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 1:28,29; Matthew 28:18-20). We short-circuit that if we make the goal something every Christian was not meant to do.

Now I do not want to discourage Christians from asking if there is something more they should be doing. And if people are ignoring clear sins, they need to repent. But I would encourage every Christian who is honestly trying to obey God to trust God, that He will lead them into those things He has for them to do (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; 1 Corinthians 3:6,7). For it is God to whom we will ultimately give an account (1 Corinthians 4:3-5; 3:10-15; Romans 14:4). I am convinced that on that day there will be surprises. But until that day we are better off, like Paul, leaving judgment in the hand of God. I am not speaking of meaningful evaluation that can help us do better but that nagging guilt which offers no concrete, viable suggestions for improvement. It is here that we need to trust in the fact that we are doing those good works God has prepared for us.

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