"For our appeal does not spring from deceit, impure motives, or trickery. Rather, because we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, we speak as we do, not trying to please people but God, who tests our motives. As you know, we did not come with words of flattery or with a scheme to make money. God is our witness! We did not seek praise from people-from you or from anyone else." (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 ISV)
"The process of qualification can be quite exasperating, for it essentially involves the full execution of selfish desires, impure motives, hidden agendas, deceitful practices, vain ambitions and, uh – let's see – oh yeah, greed, lust, and anger. And a whole bunch of other things, too. Did I mention whining?" Jim Ryle writes.
This process of qualification, God qualifying the called and not the other way around, is a difficult and soul-disrupting thing…..God carries you through your 'selfish desires, impure motives, hidden agendas, deceitful practices, vain ambitions, greed, lust and anger….' and lays it on the table between you and He. These are the things, He points out, that you bring to the table…..a kind of sinful offering for the nobler purpose of the call and they cannot exists, they cannot be the baggage that you bring with you when you go out as purposed and appointed by God to go. It is the way we want God to use us, as we are and we don't realize when we are called that it requires as Jim Ryle puts it, "shak[ing] well before using."
I wonder if I'll ever be ready to have a clean table between me and God as we discuss the qualifications for the call…..He is mighty and powerful to save, but I look around with jealously at those who are serving as pastors, ministers, elders, chaplains, and missionaries……selfishly so. We are each equipped to be a minister, involved in a personal ministry and it matters, whether simple hospitality at Church or the more frontline action of the missionary field……each is a cog in the large machine that is rolling through the darkness, important and vital to the Kingdom business……specifically suited and adapted to each of us, God-ordained and appointed, that no one else can do…no matter the similarities overall between each of them.
It's not because of some un-desirability that we are stripped so bare before the Lord in our humble answering to the call He has placed upon our hearts; it is because of the importance of the Message in which we are commissioned to carry…..and how easily such selfish desires, motives, agendas and the rest of those sinful, even if unrealized, practices that hamper our motivation to be of use for His Kingdom and glory. We carry not our own importance, skills, abilities and gifts into the ministry to which we've been called, but rather a singular reliance upon God's strength and power to see us into the encroaching darkness that we each must enter. Left to our own, no matter how suited and equipped in our individual call….we will fail because we go against an enemy that knows us as well as we know ourselves, if not better, and we cannot stand against him by ourselves…..
I am finding myself being stubborn…..because of selfish jealously and self-protection. More and more, as I spend time with those in the family of Christ at both Berean Bible Church (Wednesday nights) and at what I consider my home church Mosaic A2, I'm finding the tried and true argument against the corporate Church falling like a sticky mess on the ground….and realize despite the honesty and history of the argument that I have come across two distinctly different congregations of the Church who cannot 'nailed' to that particular Cross. Oh, there are still 'problems' within these churches I am sure….one can find problems with anything that requires the active participation of humanity……but the hard line items that I argued against time and time again as major issues with the Church are strangely vacant in these places….and I am sure there are other congregations who are the same. But it has become a stopping point for me, even as I realize its emptiness…..it lies on the table between the Lord and I seeping into the wood, staining it an most unsightly black, a huge mess marring the beautiful grains and polish of His table….…..
Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever push back from the table between God and I, reaching over to clasp His hand in mine as we smile broadly at the exciting work we're about to embark upon…..I wonder if my struggles over the old nature and all of its baggage will ever be of the ease and immaterialness of those others I see walking in faithful work with Him. And I am jealous of those who have been found approved for the work to which He has set them aside for………..
And I know it's the ugliness of the rejected son rearing his head again….trying to convince me that I cannot do the mighty things that God keeps calling me to do, keeps bringing me to that table of testing and finds me wanting; still troubled by selfish agendas and motives……instead of the beauty of the beloved son, who has been equipped for times such as these to go forth into the world uniquely qualified to serve His mission.
It saddens my heart to feel that way, time after time……and to be brought to this table, not for the maddeningly disruptive shaking but for the qualification……but I don't know if I'll ever stop doing so, even if in the experience of the qualifying is all I will ever do. For in the unquenchable thirst to serve Him, inadequately as I may feel I'd do, there is no other place I would rather be and nothing I would ever be desired to experience than the shaking of God to bring me into closer and deeper relationship with Him for the purposes of the Kingdom's glory.
But still…..in the crowded worship halls of the true Church and its members, I feel very much like I am in the back bouncing up and down, saying….."Oh, Oh, send me!!!!"
Today the ugliness of the church wounds I have carried and some of the selfish agenda that I've allowed it to become stared me in the face and I was ashamed……
For this is not what God would send into the world to serve His plan……a selfish motive to 'prove them wrong.'
Humbled I felt burdened as I listened to the message today…..sorrowed as I struggled against the jealously of those who are going out into the fields of His harvest as they answer His call……and saddened that even as I recognize the impossibility of God's plan for me that I would struggle with the faith to set the course He would set for me to make it impossibly real…..
I have so far to go……..and He hasn't forgotten His promise to me that the plans He has for me are grander and more beautiful than I could ever know……
If I only have faith…….and lay down the selfish motives of my heart for the sake of the call….