5/24/2007

Discharge Your Duty With Fidelity

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to comment on how our actions interact with God’s. As one who believes that the Bible is clear regarding the subject of God’s sovereignty, I do believe we can say with certainty that God directs our steps, changes our hearts, and produces the results for any actions we undertake.

Still, the implications for that concept are pretty tough, right? Throughout my spiritual life, I have been involved with small ministries that have a hard time putting together programs or events that most would consider “successful.” Outreach events, youth groups, advertising… godly men and women frustrated again and again by the seeming unimportance of their actions.

The usual “correct” Christian response is to say, “Well, our job is just to put in the effort, and let God handle the results.” It is the response of faith, yes- but it also gets harder and harder to swallow when the results seem so pragmatically oriented. After all, often it really IS the more exciting programs that draw in the most people!

How then should we respond? I fear that too many churches respond by knee-jerk reaction; they launch themselves to one side or the other.

I saw this clearly in college. I attended one church for a while, but became tired of the non-stop action and overly simple teaching. Their model was strongly pragmatic. It was built on exciting “worship” that was much more like a rock concert, fancy coffee, updated facilities, and the like.

The church I later attended was in a process of what I felt was healthy transition. For a long time they had looked to pragmatic concerns to help them renew what they felt was their mission to the university; large outreach events, fund drives to make the church more attractive, interest in more exciting worship. However, I had the pleasure of seeing them work to be more faithful; they taught more Bible-centered Sunday school lessons, accepted their congregational makeup, and devoted more time to spiritual growth than numerical. However, even there you could see the frustration when they were so certain God was going to do amazing (generally numerical) miracles through their humble efforts- and then it did not happen.

Friend, what I want to propose to you is this; be wise and thoughtful about your role in the kingdom. Do not be rash in counting on God to make an otherwise unlikely idea work, but also do not abandon spiritual health and meat for the sake of building a program so pragmatically exciting that it barely needs God. The fact of the matter is this: wisely and proportionally committing your work and ministry to God with faithfulness as your goal IS the true victory. Let God do what he will through it. Expect good fruit, but do not presume to always know what form that good fruit will take.

I’m reading an excellent little book called Baptists; Thorough Reformers by Rev. John Quincy Adams (no not THAT John Quincy Adams). In it, he says this about the true reformer:

“The true religious reformer must [will] ultimately triumph. However opposed, reproached, and persecuted, he triumphs. Even when he appears to be discomfited he triumphs. While he struggles on in adversity, and while sad reverses meet him in his work, still he triumphs. The power of the truth is manifest in the support it yields him amid these disheartening circumstances. The consciousness that he has discharged his duty with fidelity, fills his mind with peace… He esteems ‘the reproaches of Christ greater riches than all the treasures’ of earth.”

May we too, in our attempts to honor our King with our efforts for his kingdom, discharge our duty with fidelity, and there fill our minds with peace.

1 comment:

Ronald said...

Well written. I am struggling with this right now; trying to figure out our next small group.