Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Kingdom Without Lone Rangers


I don't play well with others. 

At its core, my desire to be a lone ranger is founded in my lack of faith in others to follow through with all their might.  Also, it is usually faster to just do it myself than to explain, discuss, ask questions, track down, and schedule meeting times that don’t conflict with two different households.

As you might expect, this do-it-self tendency doesn’t work well in marriage.  The same goes for motherhood--it's much easier to just put up the cutlery, pick up the toys, and set the table myself.  Accepting help, involving others means having to repeat myself, accepting that the task won’t be done as I would do it or on my timetable, and that I’ll likely need to clean up an extra mess the “help” created along the way.

Since last summer, I have made a more concerted effort to put myself out on a limb, partner with other Christians in teaching and in two other ministry opportunities.

As you might expect, things have not always gone smoothly.  But through these real life applications and through His Word, God has been revealing a truth about building His kingdom:

God could easily build His kingdom without man.  He could also empower a single man or woman with everything needed to go it alone.  Yet, that isn’t how God works.

Instead, God chooses to both include mankind in the kingdom-building and to bless mankind with different spiritual gifts in order to teach us how we, too, should include when doing kingdom work. 

As Paul says: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7, my italics).  Each individual’s gift is for the kingdom, for others, like one piece in a larger puzzle.

God desires His children to work together, to support, to aid one another in the building process.  It’s a lesson in putting aside “I” in favor of “we” in God’s work, a lesson He’s been teaching time and again since the Old Testament.

Consider when Amalek came to fight against Israel: “So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set” (Ex. 17:11-12). 

God could have caused the earth to open and swallow Amalek, no help needed from mankind.  God could have used only His servant Moses and his staff to strike the offenders dead at once.  God could have supernaturally endowed Moses with the strength to hold his own hands up through the entire battle.  But He did none of the above.

Instead, God allowed Joshua and his men to fight while two others literally supported Moses and, thus, all be a part of the victory.  The joy of that shared victory was surely much more intense than it would have been had a single man brought it about.

Scripture teaches, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (Ecc. 4:9-12).

In this light, let us look to our own lives to see if we’re trying to be lone rangers in a faith that isn’t autonomous.  Are there any ministries in which we are involved where we could include others?

Including others and receiving their support in kingdom ministry may make you a blessing to someone else, may draw them closer to the body.  But such joining together just might be a blessing to you as well. 

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