New Eyes, New Day - Make it Better

8429362.jpg
 

If I were to pose the question, “How many of us believe God wants to revive a robust and vigorous love for Him, His people, and the work He wants to do in us and through us,” most assuredly everyone would agree.  Why would one ever disagree?  Standing on this common ground then, my next question would be a little more challenging.  

“Then what are you doing about it?”

Willing Vessels

For God to do what God purposes to do, He chooses to work through willing vessels.  This is the Biblical precedent.  Isaiah sees a vision of God’s terrifying and awesome throne room.  God purifies Isaiah and then asks, “Who will go for us?  Whom can we send?”  Similarly, Malachi speaks prophetically of a coming messenger that will prepare the way before the Lord.  When this work of preparation is launched, In Malachi 3:1, God says, “Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come…”

One is tempted to ask, “God if you are coming suddenly, then why must there be one to prepare the way?”  We know this prophecy is pointing to John the Baptist.  Jesus affirms this in Matthew 11:10.  However, the truth that undergirds this prophecy is subtly potent.

The truth being conveyed is that we can do nothing to “make” God come, yet at the same time He waits for us to ready ourselves and “prepare the way.”  God is going to do what God desires to do but there is  preparation and groundwork to be done.  This groundwork is not necessarily for God’s benefit, but for ours!  In our work of preparing the way, our hearts are made ready for His coming.  

Our hearts must be prepared to come along side the reviving, renewing work of the Spirit in our midst.  If we fail to prepare, be assured God will work in other ways, but what He has purposed to do in us and through us will not happen.  He will do something else equally good and wonderful, yet what He purposed to happen in and through us will be lost.

For example, New Life Church’s influence spreads throughout southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio.  God has a particular purpose and role for us to play in His work of blessing and redeeming this area.  However, if we are not prepared to step into our moment, into our calling, God will continue to work in this area for sure, but the way He intended to use us, this church, is postponed at best, forfeited at worst.

Galatians 4:19 we read that Paul understood this truth.  He tells the Galatian Christians that “Christ is to be formed in you, but that will not happen if I do not labor for you.”  It is not that God cannot work in their lives apart from Paul, but what God wants to do is work in their lives through Paul.  Paul knows that if he is not willing nor prepared to labor, then he will miss the role God intends him to play in the work of blessing and redeeming the Galatians.

I Must Participate

Hear what I am saying.  There are some things that will not happen in me and in the lives of the people God has placed around me, if I am not willing nor prepared to allow God to work in and through me.  God will still accomplish what God intends to accomplish, but it will look differently.  If I do not participate, the shape of this church and the world will be different.  He will raise up another, but the blessing, fruit, and progress that He willed for me will be postponed or forfeited.  

I must participate.  Paul tells the Ephesians in 2:10 that we were created to do good works.  Paul tells Titus in 2:14 that Jesus redeems us, purifies us, makes us His own, so we could be “zealous for [these] good works,” (ESV, KJV).  When He created you, God had in mind the things He would have for you to do.  These good works are nothing less than continuing the very work of Christ on the earth as His body.  The call to follow Jesus is indistinguishable from the call to share in Jesus’ work which is to bless and redeem the entire cosmos unto Himself.

When you participate in the good works He has for you, you indeed bring glory to God.  The work we do as His body is what points to and teaches the world about Jesus.  Jesus says as much in John 10:22-42, “The works I do testify about me…Believe the works.”  In other words Jesus says if you want to understand who I am then look at what I do.  In a very real and powerful way, if we want the world to know Jesus, we have to do His work.

Make It Better

This is the heart of “Make it Better:”  Understanding we have a role to play, and our willingness to take responsibility and labor affects God’s work among us.  Ultimately as we step into the good works we have been created for, we will bring Glory to God.  Let’s make it a little more practical.

We have been engrafted into a global, universal family of God through Jesus.  We also have been planted in a local expression of that family through our church.  We gather as a community, as New Life Church, bonded by familial relationship and calling.  There is tremendous energy and excitement, and synergy that happens when work together as a church to bring God glory.  We should be very excited about the possibilities of how our combined willingness to labor will shake the earth! 

How do we do that?

At this point, I think of Luke 10 and the scene with Mary and Martha.  I am convinced we need to be both Mary and Martha.  We need to be both at Jesus’ feet listening and praying, and we need to be in the kitchen making a meal.  

There are times for us to be Mary, on our face, in the Lord’s presence, in the place of intercession.  We need to do this because there are some things God will not do until we have prepared the way through prayer and intercession.  Sometimes it is our heart that need to be more broken; sometimes it is the principalities. 

There are also times for us to be Martha because there is work to be done.  Not that we stop listening to Jesus —we are always listening to Him— there comes a point, however, when we have to get up from the carpet, roll up our sleeves, and get to the work of Christ in this world.  There is drug addiction.  Families are falling apart.  People need food.  People need love.  These problems need something beyond intercession; they need Christ’s body to get out into the field and bring in the harvest.

That is the faithful Christian life.  That is the life Jesus models as there are times He separates Himself in prayer and times he is casting out demons and feeding five thousand.  So let us model this faithful Christian life too.

We need to labor in prayer.  Let us pray for a continual renewing of our vision, for new eyes.  Let  us pray we arrive at God’s intentions for our church, for the new day He has in mind.  Let us pray for one another, for unity, for love.  Let us pray for the needs, strongholds, and brokenness in our neighborhoods, families, and world. 

We also need to get up and get to work!  We need to resist complaining and make it better.  As you walk around the church —observing the family, using the facilities— when you notice things that can be better, if it is within your power and ability, by all means do it!  Make it better!  Grab the vacuum.  Change the lightbulb.  Do the dishes.  Clean the toilet.  Start the small group.  Be the hospitable one.  Be the reconciler.  Invite that family or friend to church.  Volunteer for the outreach.  Create the ministry.  Be the encourager, the doer, the worker, and not the complainer.

Let’s make it better!