However, the church was not commissioned to do good things, but God things.
Moses knew God’s purpose for the Israelites was for them to be free from bondage in Egypt. But Moses had mistaken when he thought he knew God’s plan for doing it.
Gideon understood God’s purpose was to free the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites. He assumed he knew the plan that God would use to do this by using the largest number of soldiers. Gideon thought it would take 32,000, but God only needed 300.
I have met many wonderful small rural pastors and church leaders. These dear people want to truly serve God and to fulfill the obligation of the Great Commission. They know that they have a responsibility and have a desire to bless their community that they live in. But like Moses and Gideon, too many assume that they know the plan that God has for their church ministry. Sometimes the intention is admirable, but the method is less than desirable.
With abundant enthusiasm, the church may say that “Jesus commanded us to make Christlike disciples of all the nations, so let us get to work. Let us plan a mission trip to some deserving neighborhood or third world country. Let us also plan a Bible study for young adults, let us do a Wednesday lunch for single mothers. And we cannot forget the children so let us begin a Thursday children’s program and we must do some kind of children’s camp.”
All these activities are all good in and of themselves. However, the church was not commissioned to do good things, but God things. Our problem is that we do not think the way God does. God declared, “for My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways” Isaiah 55:8. When churches assume their thinking and planning is identical to God’s, they tried to accomplish God’s work the world’s way. It is naïve thinking to assume God seeks to be glorified and make disciples of all the nations yet leaves the local church to figure out the details by themselves.
Jesus said, “…I will build my church” Matthew 16:18. Christ not only builds His church, He also directs His church. When Christ said He was the Head of the church, He was not referring to a token figurehead. Revelation 1-3 shows that the Risen Savior is active and involved with His churches. And that He will hold the churches accountable for how they conduct themselves under His leadership.
As Jesus Christ walks amongst his churches, He declares, “I know your works” (Revelation 2:2,9,13,3:1,8,15 ) To Ephesus, you have abandoned the love you had at first. To Smyrna, that they were living too close and mingling with idols. To Sardis, for I have not found your works complete before my God. To Laodicea, that you are neither cold nor hot.
It was certain that none of these churches intended on displeasing the Lord. Their leaders probably believed in the effectiveness of their methods. But God was not pleased.
With God it is not just what you do that matters, but how you do it and with what heart. Many churches across our land need a word from the Risen Savior. Their programming is full, their calendars are running over, and numbers may seem slightly ahead of last year. All may seem well, yet Christ would declare to them, but I have this against you. I know your works!
Are we trusting God for your plans? I have learned the key to honoring God is not to develop my own plans and then ask God to bless them. God already has a plan. The key is to cry out to God and to ask him to reveal His plans to you. As a church, you have the Holy Spirit present within you who knows God’s mind completely (1 Corinthians 2:9-12). His role is to guide you into the will of the Father.
Are we building our numbers or are we building God’s church? Jesus clearly told his people what a churches priority should be. He said, “but seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things will be provided to you” Matthew 6:33. Jesus did not command us to build our church. He said he would do that Himself. He told us to make His Kingdom the number one priority and focus on our life. There is a big difference between building your church and building God’s Kingdom.
Rely on the Father to reveal to you today His plan for your church. let God lead you and guide you to where and what to do in your church. It belongs to Him anyway. If we would just realize that it is God’s responsibility to build the church it will take the burden off of our shoulders and onto His. Jesus invited us to cast off our burdens and cares onto Him and to let Him carry the burden, we just need to follow His direction. With much prayer and fasting seek after God’s will and God’s plan for you and your church.
Rob Beckett, pastor of Shepherdsville Nazarene Church for the Kentucky District – Restoring “The Image of God” to the Broken and Hurting.