Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The World on Our Shoulders

It is important to understand that the work of the Spirit in our lives is necessary for salvation (Titus 3:4,5; John 3:5-8; 1:12,13). It is also important to understand that it is necessary for living a life of obedience to God (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18). But sometimes, even when we get that, we can forget His work is also necessary to serve God (2 Corinthians 3:5,6; Colossians 1:29; Ephesians 2:10). I can realize the fact that I cannot have the fruit of the Spirit in my life (Galatians 5:22,23) without His working. But I can then turn to my clever programs or capable administrative ability or the newest ministry fad to accomplish God’s work in the world. Yet the Scripture says that it is Christ who will build His church, not our human efforts (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:6,7; Psalms 127:1,2). That is not to say we have no obligation to carry out God’s commands to minister to people (Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 1:28; Acts 1:8). But this should be done trusting in God’s power, not our ability. It is easy to take on our shoulders burdens we were not meant to bear. If we see the obligation for impacting the world as falling totally on us, it can produce a feeling of desperation that can overwhelm us. Also, it can cause us to be so discouraged we refuse to be involved. Especially if we feel we do not have the right technique. Or we can come to believe that all such things should be left to professional clergy. 

In the United States, we as a culture have departed from at least nominal adherence to Christian principles to embrace a secular worldview. This can cause Christians to panic and look for some quick fix to bring us back to where we used to be. And instead of trusting God, we can end up trusting in the newest methods to do His work. Yet Scripture, far from saying we can expect the world to be on our side, says we should expect opposition (John 16:1-4; 15:18-20; Matthew 10:16-22). This does not mean we should despair of having any impact on our culture, but I do believe we should let go of the past. We need to recognize that we are currently Christians in a pagan culture and rebuild from there. But we must do it not based on gimmicks and panaceas but on trust in God, and by His Spirit’s working through us to accomplish the things He wants to accomplish. We also need to turn back to the basic disciplines of the Christian life, to Bible study (2 Timothy 2:15), prayer (Ephesians 6:18), meditation (Psalms 1:2), and the other things that will build us up in God (Hebrews 5:12-14). For through this we can learn to trust Him to work in us in every aspect of our lives. For without Him we really can do nothing (John 15:5; Romans 8:8; 7:18).

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