Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven (Luke 10:20)
Use Me Lord?
I am convinced that one of the things Jesus will soon purge from His Church is our emphasis on successful service—delighting that God has used us. On the surface, it seems reasonable to rejoice in this. Aren’t we to be servants? Aren’t we to bear fruit in our efforts? How can anything be wrong with that? Shouldn’t we want God to use us
One with Him
The problem is that God isn’t interested in what we can do for Him, and neither is Jesus. Their great desire for us is that we would be one with them. If Christ is truly in us and we are in Him, then we are never to think of ourselves as being separate from Him. If Christ is in us, then we must understand why He is there, and it’s not to help us when we are in trouble. He is there to replace our old life which was crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). When we walk in the Spirit, it is Christ who is living His life through our body, soul and spirit.
If we are allowing Christ to be our life, we have become one with Him to the degree that we never think of doing something to please Him. Instead, we are to allow Jesus to do the very thing that brought Him the greatest joy—to carry out what His Father has sent Him to do. He will be completing the work He began when He walked the earth, and He will do it through us.
Circumstances are Irrelevant
With this relationship of oneness, our circumstances are irrelevant. Even in the toughest of times, the Holy Spirit will pour rivers of living waters (Jesus’ life) through us. As Jesus carries out the Father’s desires, we get carried along. Yes, our bodies are doing the “work,” but the life behind the work we carry out is Jesus’. When we stop thinking of ourselves as the ones doing the work (serving), we stop rejoicing in our successful service.
I believe this is what today’s verse is really all about. When our primary focus is on our relationship with Jesus, He will fulfill His mission through us, and in His mercy He may never let us know what the “results” were. If “usefulness” is the greatest measure of success, then Jesus’ life was a failure. He never gave that a thought, only carrying out His Father’s desires.
To Know Christ
I know this is a difficult concept to grasp, let alone live it out, but I am convinced that this was a key to Paul’s effectiveness. He had a deep desire to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10). He had become convinced that unless Christ lived His life through Him (Gal. 2:20), all his “successful service” would have amounted to nothing (Phil. 3:8).
I’m still working my way through this, but I am convinced that our worldly focus on successful service is one of the reasons for the Church’s ineffectiveness.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
A grenade thrown into a French bakery results in Linoleum Blownapart.
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