Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 6

December 19, 2015 at 8:49 AM

200370167-001Interestingly enough, it appears that there are two ways of doing something God would have us do and even though they may appear to be the exact same action (externally, when viewed by other people), there is only one way that allows us to can enter into fellowship with God. In essence, a person can perform God’s will one of two ways. First, they can do it from selfish or ulterior motives. In that case, it will certainly seem as though their intentions are working in conjunction with God to bring about His purposes and plans, all for His glory. Unfortunately, because of a self-centered attitude, even though God’s will is accomplished, the person involved will not benefit. In fact, they will suffer loss. Second, the same person can perform God’s will out of true love for the Father and a desire to see Him and Him only glorified. This will bring God great glory and blessing to the individual performing God’s will as well.

We have all done this, haven’t we? We have done things for God out of a sense of duty or through feelings of having to do something. Deep within, we don’t really want to do that job or task, but will never admit that to others and rarely admit it to ourselves. Yet, we know that this is the case, in spite of how we might choose to ignore those inner feelings.

So how is it we rise above this so that as we partner with God to perform His will, we can know that we are actually doing things in His strength and for His purposes, as opposed to simply doing them because we are “supposed” to do them? It really marks the difference between doing things in our strength (which creates a huge burden on the individual) and doing things in His strength which invigorates the individual performing those good deeds (or God’s will).

We talked previously about partnering with God in Christ, yoking ourselves to Him. Jesus Himself told us that we should partner with Him (as He partnered with God the Father) because in doing so, we will find that His yoke is actually light and easy to bear (compared with simply trying to do something in our own strength; Matthew 28:11-30). It’s a principle that bears itself out in life. Try lifting a heavy log by yourself. It can be very difficult. Now ask a friend to get on one end of the log with you on the other. All of a sudden, the job becomes much easier because two people are sharing the load.

We all know how science works, don’t we? Whenever we share the load, the job becomes much easier and that is the point that Jesus was intending to make. We aren’t in it alone. We aren’t tasked with performing the Father’s will by our own strength. But the key is – for many to most of us – how do we actually partner with God so that the task at hand is not burdensome, but easier?

It’s frustrating for us to watch people like Martha, who are so “busy” doing things for the Lord that they become frustrated, out-of-energy, and even angry at the whole experience (cf. Luke 10:38-42). Few of us want to be around Christians like that. While they may be doing what God wants them to do (and Martha actually could have simply stopped what she was doing and did as Mary did by sitting at Jesus’ feet herself), they aren’t doing those things in God’s Spirit. They’re not happy about it. It’s a “must-do” situation or an obligation or duty that compels them to fulfill what they believe to be God’s will. It doesn’t simply spring from them, but it’s something they put on externally. We’ve all been there.

We can do God’s will in the wrong spirit and in our own strength, can’t we? Many of us do that a great deal, but there is a better way, a way that Jesus used and a way that we can use as well.

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner, (John 5:19).

If you truly love someone, when you see them doing something, isn’t your natural impulse to want to help them? Isn’t your reaction to seeing them exert energy to accomplish something a desire from within you to help them so that you both share the load? If you’re watching your mother, father, wife, husband, or another loved one do something that is requiring them to exert themselves and you simply continue watching them, what help are you? Do you actually really love them? If you did, wouldn’t you want to naturally step in and offer them assistance?

I have found that over time since marrying my wife, I see myself simply stepping up. I help with the laundry to the point that now I’ll simply start a load myself. In fact, every Thursday, I simply and automatically start sorting clothes and running loads. It started off by my simply helping my wife fold clothes that had already been washed and dried. Now, I take care of most of it. I don’t say that to pay myself on the back. I say that to simply point out how easily it went from simply helping to actually taking charge.

Since my wife and I both work out of our respective offices at home, I usually have a bit more of a flexible schedule than my wife does. She has many phone calls, webinars, and conferences she needs to attend to during the day. It’s relatively easy for me to simply deal with the laundry also during the day. Who wants to deal with it at night when being tired comes into play?

On other occasions, I’ll see dishes in the sink and simply take care of them, by rinsing them off and placing them in the dishwasher. I do this because I love my wife. She certainly does not make me feel like I “owe” it to her or that I “have” to do those things. But it is interesting to me how I went from simply helping her fold clothing to being in charge of the laundry. I don’t mind at all because it helps her out.

My point, I think is simple. As we “see” God working in and through us, we can react in two different ways. We can see ourselves as coming alongside of God and partnering with Him to get things done, or we can see ourselves as God telling us what He wants done and we will think we are doing them by ourselves. It’s as though a messenger comes to the door, gives us our instructions, and then leaves us to it!

I honestly believe this was the Prodigal Son’s main problem (cf. Luke 15). He saw himself as a “hired hand” for his father, though he was far from that. He was given tasks to do and he was expected to do them. The truth was that I’d be more than willing to bet (if I was a gambling man) that the father paid very close attention to his sons and even tried to make their work environments suitable for them as sons. The father could not help the fact that the Prodigal Son saw his father as a tyrant though. It was only after the Prodigal’s journey away from his home and his father, living in what he thought was “freedom” that he actually began to realize that his father was not the tyrant he had originally thought.

Please notice that after the Prodigal Son returned, he was most likely going to be doing the exact same jobs then that he was tasked with doing before he left! What was the difference? It was in the way he viewed his father! This new – and far more accurate view of his father – prompted the Prodigal Son to be far more willing to do the things his father wanted done because he was no longer viewing his father as some hardcore, taskmaster. Instead, he was seeing his father as he actually was, a father who dearly loved his sons and wanted the best for them. He actually wanted his sons to willingly partner with him in the family owned business and they could not do that until they understood who the father was in reality.

Once the Prodigal Son returned home – fully willing to become nothing more than a servant in exchange for a place to lay his head and for three meals a day – that son had come to a point where he was actually willing to partner with his dad. In fact, the exact same chores he had done before he left (and hated), would now take on completely new meaning. Why? Because the son’s outlook had been changed completely. The father hadn’t changed one bit! He still did things the same way. He still loved his sons the same way. He still wanted them to partner voluntarily with him. It was this one son who had changed and life’s experience taught him that his previous view of his father had been seriously skewed.

The Prodigal Son, who had experienced a complete change in viewpoint where his father was concerned, could now actually begin to enjoy fellowship with his father! He understood that his father had loved him the whole time, wanted the best for him, and was willing to do whatever necessary to try to make that happen for his son. Of course, no matter what the father did, if the son had not come to see his father for who he truly was, then the son would forever see him in a wrong way and the tasks given to him would always chaff and wear him down.

The change paved the way for the son to now do the same jobs he did before but with a new purpose and meaning. Because his viewpoint had changed  and he now saw himself as partnering with his father to get the jobs done, he would take pride in his work. He would see that he was coming alongside his father instead of merely checking things off his “to do” list! This will make the difference between doing the same job grudgingly or joyfully.

When Jesus saw His Father doing things (John 5:19), He joined in with gusto, joyfully partnering with His Father to bring the Father’s will to pass. He didn’t see the Father’s will as burdensome, boring, or labor that caused exhaustion. He saw it as opportunity and willingly partnered with the Father to help the Father bring those purposes and plans to fruition. Jesus was a willing “servant” and partner.

We can go through our days looking at everything that comes our way as an opportunity to partner with the Father or as simply another “task” that God has given us to do in our already filled-to-overflowing list of “chores” for that day. Oh, when will we get some relief?!

The truth is that if we begin to see these things as things that God is already doing and who gives us a chance to partner with Him in those thing things (He doesn’t simply say, “Here you go! Get busy. See ya!”), our attitudes will become completely different. We’ll talk more about this soon, but I’m hoping this whets your appetite to want to partner with God. It’s not so much that He is giving you jobs to do. It’s that He is doing things and gives you opportunities to partner with Him in those things.

Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , , .

Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 5 Satan Will Use Whatever He Can to Fill Spiritual Holes in People

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