We have spent these weeks since Easter thinking about Working on our walk with God.
We began with the readings from Exodus and Leviticus regarding Sabbath, Sabbatical, and Jubilee, where we learn that God calls us (requires us) to rest, because it is what is best for us – we need rest, and we need to be reminded that we are dependent on God, and to be still long enough to let God care for us – blessing us with Rest, Renewal, and Restoration.
Then we considered Jesus in John 21 after the resurrection, meeting his disciples by the lakeside where they had gone fishing. Again, we find Jesus serving us, caring for us, blessing us.
Next we heard Jesus calling us, in Mark 6, after a season of ministry, to come away with him and rest awhile.
Last week we took up the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, where he describes how we as church are to function:
11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
And now we come to Paul writing to the church in Corinth. Having spent several years with them, witnessing, teaching, and developing leaders in this new church, it came time for him to leave, though he still considered them his church. He still felt responsible for and to them – they remained in a convenant relationship. In his absence, Apolos came in, and as Paul describes here, perhaps thinking about his ideas reflected in Ephesians 4, Apollos functioned differently from Paul, bringing different skills and personality and spiritual gifts to accomplish different things – the things that the church needed at the present time – Paul planted, Apollos watered, etc.
Notice where the people’s focus seems to be – on the human leaders.
Notice where Paul’s focus is – on God and the people.
God gives the growth, and they are being created into a field where God’s harvest may come, into a building, a temple through which God’s Spirit may dwell in the world in a special way.
It is not low self-esteem or self-deprecation to say, we are servants, we are rubbish, we are nothing. It is not an objective statement, but a comparative one. We are not the point! God is the point – and You are God’s focus, which makes you the point. Those who are called out as leaders are always called out to serve, to submit – not to the will and whims of other people, but to God and what God desires to have happen in the midst of the people at this time.
So, I take my leave for this season of ministry, and Bob comes. I did not plant – others did that. Wally Moseley calls this his Lazarus church, because through him and others God helped bring it back from the dead. I like to think of myself as one of Lazarus’ friends and family, to whom Jesus said, “Unbind him and set him free!”
I thank you for the last seven years of ministry.
I thank you for honoring the ministry enough to enter this time of Sabbatical with me.
I thank you for receiving Bob and his ministry among you.
And, I look forward to returning in August and celebrating the growth that God has given us all.
May 16 1 Corinthians 3 – “We are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building”