Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another Smoke Signal - NOT IN SERVICE

We've all been there; standing in front of a vending machine, or an elevator, or on the sidewalk watching the bus go by that says "not in service". We can't have our needs met there. There is no availability to procure what we are lacking or desiring.

Yet when we go to church service, we go with the expectation of getting needs met. There are those that would seek something from the benevolence fund to furnish their dining table with. Others might look for some monetary assistance to pay a bill. Still others are looking for justification for some deed done, and be told that they were on the side of right. And a multitude of other expectations besides . . .

However, as the LORD Himself stated:

Matt 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

We would do well to follow our LORD's counsel; seeking first His kingdom is the priority for the saint. But what does it mean to seek the kingdom?
Putting it simply, I would say that meant to see to the business of the King! To follow His commands, to go where He leads, to place His own objectives and desires above our own - or even more radically, to allow His to nullify our own so there is nothing in our lives except His commands, objectives and desires.

It must be said, that before one can venture into such service (a.k.a. ministry) one must be born into the kingdom, that is, born into the family of God via Jesus Christ and the spiritual new birth by which we both see and enter into the kingdom as a newly inducted royal citizen (John 3:3, 5).

We are to preach the Gospel to lost souls (Mark 16:15). We are to make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20), teaching and sharing our lives with those new to the faith (Phil 2:1; 1 John 1:3). We are to encourage the downcast saint, to warn the unruly (1 Thess. 4:1; 5:14), to be vigilant for wolves and false teachers and safeguard the flock of God (Acts 20:28-32; Eph. 5:11).

These are affairs of state; as well as this, the worship of our King Who is Himself God; prayers, petitions and intercessions are likewise courses of duty, but not merely so - also it's our passion and love and joy to enter into such exercises!

Yet these things are not to be conducted only "in service" where we both give and receive ministry; we are likewise to "go out" among the world as salt (Matt. 5:13) and light (5:15), and conduct ourselves as holy ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) before a blind, unbelieving, unhealed, unsaved world that desperately needs Who we have: JESUS!

Yet salt does no good while remaining in the shaker; light can offer no help if covered over. Salt must be applied to food for taste or to wounds for purifying; light must be shed abroad in order to provide guidance, clarity and cheer.

I've been reading some books by Emergent authors (for apologetic purposes), and while there is much, far too much in such material that is either extra-biblical or even anti-biblical, there are a few grains of truth and justifiable criticisms laid against the evangelical church:

Rather than having a frontier mentality and going out to the far reaches (or even across our neighbors fence) of our city, state, nation and the world itself, we have a kind of siege mentality, where we reinforce the walls and doors we hide behind, and if we conduct any kingdom business, it's done there but no where else.
We are not being our "brother's keeper" that is, our fellow man, who we would seek to become our genuine brother in Christ, and not just another lost son of Adam - and as these days grow darker and more wicked, we are sorely tempted to withdraw all the more.

Yet, even as my pastor once said in a recent sermon: "the armor of God is to insulate us while in the world, but it's never to isolate us from the world."

Think of the Holy LORD of Glory Who Himself left the purely holy realm of heaven, took on human flesh, and dwelled among us sinners in this terribly fallen world - can we who are sinners redeemed and now saints refrain from such incursions into this realm of iniquity? We have no excuses to forego this needful enterprise that our Holy LORD engaged (and still does engage) in.

John 1:14
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Hebrews 12:2-4
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Let us all (myself included) examine our hearts and seek God's will on these matters. If we haven't already, let us adopt that 'frontier mentality' of adventure and see where the LORD would take us! Let's leave behind us the 'siege mentality' and the walls that would keep us from these precious souls that the LORD would redeem and deliver to them the Gospel which alone can save them, and that precious Name of Jesus Christ, the only one given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12)!

Mat 5:16
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Philippians 2:15
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

So by God's grace, may He find us, 'not in service' so much as serving those who are spiritually dead and in dire need of receiving eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD (Romans 6:23), as well as reaching out to those wayward saints who could use a guiding hand back to the fold of the LORD.