How do we know when to just go and when to wait on God to be called?
One option seems to result in a church full of people rushing around doing everything and somehow losing time for God in the process, and the other could result in an apathetic church with a really convenient excuse not to do things. Except for Jesus. Because if Jesus calls us then things will happen, but they'll happen in God's time and in God's way. Through His power and grace we wouldn't have a church where some people are running around doing everything, just because they're able to do them, while others sit at the sidelines because there's nothing left to do. We would have a church where each member is focused on God first, serving in the ways God has appointed for them, full of the power and energy to do just that.
Idealistic? Maybe. Or is it what we're called to, if only we would stay still long enough to hear it?
Let me expand...
For starters, this blog isn't meant to be a way of pointing a finger at the way things are happening at my church (or any other church I've been a member of) because really, I think it's a common problem. It's all too easy to fall into the habit of 'if you want something done, ask a busy person'. It happens in all walks of life, and I guess my hope is that one day the church will be the exception.
There are several things as Christians that we know we're called to do - we're called into relationship with God and we have also been commissioned to spread the gospel. I could be wrong, but I don't think there are that many Christians I know who would dispute that. The difficulty is in how we live that out, what that looks like on a practical, day to day basis.
I would like to suggest that we're called into relationship first and foremost. When asked what the most important commandment is, Jesus replies,
"'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'"
So both aspects are there, but the first is to love God, then from that you love your neighbour - but our starting point is our relationship with God.
We also see that modelled in Jesus' life. There are numerous references to Jesus withdrawing to spend time with God, and He didn't even start His ministry until He was filled with the Holy Spirit. We can then see Him being guided by the Spirit throughout His ministry, into meetings with individuals whose hearts are prepared for Him at just the right time. (I do realise this is a whole bible study in and of itself, so I can't really expand on this much further right now!).
The sermon at my church this morning included the passage in Matthew where Peter walks on water. Something new struck me about it today. At first glance, it could be seen as supporting the 'just get on and do it' argument, but what I really love is this:
"Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water." "Yes, come," Jesus said. (Matthew 14:28-29)
Peter saw an opportunity, an opportunity that probably looked great, that looked as though it was what Jesus would want him to do, but he still waited for Jesus to call him. He didn't wait passively though, he actively sought out Jesus' will for him - thankfully not by jumping in feet first, but by simply asking Jesus.
Could this be a picture of what God wants for us? To be active about looking for opportunities to step out, while having a close enough relationship with Jesus to always be seeking His opinion on whether it's what He wants for us.
And if it is, then why do we try and do it differently? Why do we put action over and above spending time with God, stepping out into things and then expecting God to follow us, instead of developing our relationship with Him and then asking what he has in store for us?
I guess what it comes down to for me is that I'm scared. Scared of what would happen if I actually laid down all the things I do, and probably more scared of what God might give me instead. Because pottering on in my own little way is a lot safer, I'm keeping myself busy, I'm serving the church, I'm even fairly ok at having daily God times. But what I'm not great at doing is asking God what He has in store for me, who He sees me becoming, what He wants me to be spending my time doing. It's far easier to have my focus on me and my tasks than it is to focus on Him.
Because who knows what He has in store for me if I'd just let Him share it with me?
I took a 'Spiritual Gifts' questionnaire a while back, and the results indicated that I have a strong leaning towards the gift of faith. I have to admit it came as quite a surprise to me, largely because I hadn't really considered faith being a gift before. Now I'm a little more aware of it, I can see it, because there are just some times where I can look at what seems to be impossible and know that God can do it. Which is great, except when the thing I'm looking at is me. Because you see, believing that God can do anything, means also believing that He can do anything with me - and that's scary!
Well... at least it is scary until I look at God. Because the God I know promises:
"So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
And it's not just that, He also tells me not to worry about anything but instead pray to Him, that if I come to Him is yoke is easy and His burden is light, that He will direct my paths. He's also the huge God who created the universe, but also cared enough about me to make a way for me to have a relationship with Him because He knew I wouldn't get there by myself.
And suddenly it's not so scary any more.
In fact, you could argue that it's less scary doing things with God than trying to do good things without Him.
And the application of all this, I hear you ask - well for me, I think I'll try spending a week talking to God instead of watching TV and then I'll see what happens and where I'm called...