The other day in Intern Class (part of my internship at TASCC) we talked about the lies people believe that impede them from stepping out in happy and willing obedience into service, and particularly into evangelism. They are:
- “I am responsible for people’s salvation.” And
- “I am necessary for the building up of God’s kingdom.”
Let’s start with the first. That if we don’t do what we are supposed to, our brothers and sisters and grocery store clerks are going to hell and it will be our faults. Now friends, answer me this: Is God sovereign, or isn’t He? (He is.) And His word tells us it is Him that calls his sheep, that he had a plan for them before time and that they know his voice.
But Romans 10: 14-15 tells us, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” (NASB, emphasis in translation) And this certainly seems to suggest we have to do something to accomplish the salvation of others, right? (Well, it did to me, you’re probably too smart for all that pish-posh.) But while the text does say that they cannot believe if they have not heard, it does not say that God has his hands tied behind his back, and if you do it wrong or not at all, he’s helpless, and things go to pot.
If you and I actually believe God is who the Bible says He is (go pick up a book on doctrine or theology. It’ll make you a happier person. It has me, at least) then we ought never fret over doing his bidding. Because we aren’t going to ruin things, and He doesn’t need us, he’s just inviting us along to be part of the process. It’s kind of like making cookies with your momma.
I’ve witnessed this a lot recently. Shanna, who I live with (and her husband and three kids) often invites the little ones to be part of whatever project she’s doing. There are spots for each of them to help. Like with cookies. When Shanna is making cookies, she’s making a blessing for the entire family. There is a fun process, sweet anticipation (punny!) and sweeter rewards (zing!) once the cookies, always baked to the perfect gooey-crispy combination consistency, come out of the oven. And when she calls the kids into the kitchen, they don’t freak out about possibly messing up the recipe, get scared about needing to figure it out for themselves, or even think about the mess left over. Because their momma is in control, and she’s going to make sure they come out with some stinking good cookies, and it will be fun helping! They are just so happy to get to help! This means they are loved, they are important, they are valued, and they are useful, too!
Does Shanna need their help? No. Could she do it on her own? Yes. Is it possible for the kids to cause some cookie calamity?
But never one bigger than Shanna can fix!! Horray!! There is more sugar, there is more butter, eggs wipe up! And the mess that happens when a three year old insists on sifting the sugar? Well don’t tell anyone, but Shanna saw that coming, and not only can she clean it up, but she knew she’d have to, and asked them to help anyway, because she delights in their presence. She delights in teaching them, in being with them, she even delights in caring for/looking after/cleaning them and their messes.
God does not need you to help Him. God can do whatever he pleases. And yet, somehow, it pleases him to invite you to be part of what He is already doing. You will not mess up bigger than he can fix, he won’t leave you to your own devices, and there are sweet rewards to be had from this joining with God in service.
I pray that this may somehow bring you peace, as it has me. It is my joy to love you, it is not my painful burden. It is the load I lift with a grateful heart and a smiling face. This is going to be an adventure, and it’s not going to be one I take alone.