Living as Clay
Every other week I have the opportunity to attend an incredible Bible study with a group from my church and another group of believers from all over the Eastside. Even though I have only gone to three of these Bible studies since I have been home, the group that we meet with has really become like a second family. Many of the group from my own church, including myself, have only known these people for a little over a month and yet as remarked by someone attending for the first time that night,
"It seems like you all have known each other forever."
It is truly incredible how, by the power of the Gospel, so many different people, with so many different backgrounds, can come together for the same purpose; a desire to give God glory. And that has become the focus of this Bible study. In all of our prayers, our reading of the Bible, our conversations about the Scriptures, and the time of singing, all praise and glory is pointed directly at the Father, because we all know that we are absolutely nothing apart from Christ. When we enter into a group-setting knowing that we do not have to try and impress those in the group with some inflated sense of false piousness or religiousness, inhibitions cease to exist. We are no longer trying to assert an opinion or reputation of ourselves but are able to more effectively mirror that which Christ has done through us. It becomes centered around Jesus, as everything in Christianity, and ultimately life should be centered around.
Over the past few weeks we have been going through the book of Galatians chapter-by-chapter. Topics like Christian traditions, sanctification, and what it looks like to be conformed to the image of Christ are just a handful of the topics we have covered in the short amount of time we have spent together. This past Thursday we attempted to tackle the very broad subject of ministry and how Christians should see ministry.
It is important to know that it is not just pastors and missionaries that are called to "ministry" but encompasses all of God's children. Every person that enters into the Kingdom of God has To begin to unpackage the ideas surrounding ministry we turned to Exodus 31:1-5 to read the story of Bezalel:
"The Lord said to Moses, "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft."
Bezalel was appointed by God to be one of the craftsman that would work on the tabernacle (the mobile temple) of Israel. In dissecting this verse we can note three very important aspects of ministry demonstrated by God:
God called Bezalel by name.
When God chooses to include someone in His work, it is not as if God put a "Help Wanted" ad in the classifieds section of our local newspapers. God knows exactly who He wants to use. Not only that, from this passage we see just how truly personal God is. To call an individual "by name" denotes an incredible amount of personal and intimate touch. God is not a distant ethereal being or a cosmic collection of ideas. He is personal and desires closeness with those He loves.
God filled Bezalel with the Spirit.
Our lives are plagued by so much fear and indecision when it comes to matters concerning our well-being. Internal debates with the heart, brain, and mind cause us to second-guess actions, feelings, and decisions. To be called by God for a certain purpose in no way guarantees safety or even livelihood, but in Christ we are promised the Holy Spirit; the bold, powerful, and discerning Spirit of God. In Him, we are able to overcome fear to best be used by God for His purposes. While God did not necessarily promise comfort, He did promise companionship. Take for example the disciples of Jesus. Jesus even told the disciples they would suffer and die for His name, and yet they still chose to follow. Ten men went to their graves filled with the Holy Spirit, but never forsaking His guidance for their comfort.
God provided Bezalel with the abilities and knowledge to complete the task set before him.
Our shortcomings and failures are never enough for God to overcome and redeem. It is no coincidence that an adulterer, a stutterer, a coward, and a teenage prophet were some of the less than perfect characters God used to complete His work. Where man fails to meet the expectations of God, God makes up the difference. To understand that nothing in this life is truly earned from the strength of our backs or the sweat of our brow is to be fully aware of God's providential hand in humanity. When it all comes down to it, we are nothing. We deserve nothing, we are capable of earning nothing, and as a striving after wind, we will fail to reap the harvest we have sown. In understanding that God provides all things to all people, we see that we do not apply for our ministry like a job, but that it is given to us like a gift.
The work is never our own, we are just a small piece of the blueprint under the watchful eye of the Architect. Like clay in a potters hands, God is molding and forming us for the ministry and work He has planned for us. The foundation never being in our abilities, knowledge, or talent but resting solely upon Christ. In Him we are able and only through Him are we able.
When we direct all glory and honor to the One who is worthy in our work, ministry, and lives, we will never be far from the will of God. Trust in His plans.
"Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."
—2 Corinthians 3:4-6