Sunday, 30 March 2014

When your best ain't good enough

Pleasing people is a tricky business, and of course basically doomed to failure. Someone at some point will have a negative opinion on something you have done, and will project this onto you. People can also seem to change their mind: apparently 'okay' with something at the time and yet some months later then voicing a strong objection to it. It is at those times that you are left feeling that even though you gave your best, for some people it simply isn't good enough.

Paul was familiar with all this and experienced it first hand in his ministry. Believers in Corinth clearly seemed to be taking issue with him, which forms a backdrop to both his letters to them. Paul responds by trying to get people to focus on God's work (1 Corinthians 3) and then pointing out each of us are simply servants of Christ (chapter 4 verse 1), doing our best.

In a real sense Paul detaches himself from the debate. He knows his calling, and the requirements that places on him (verse 2), and that means he can get on with his work and let God be the judge - not himself or anyone else (verses 3 to 5).

So can we simply be oblivious to any measurement, analysis or assessment of what we do? I don't think so. For one thing we are called to minister in community, not in our own isolated bubbles. Yet it does mean that ultimately our grounding, our sense of identity, our calling, must all relate back to Christ and His work ... and so what we do is offered up to Him for the real assessment.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Prophecy - God With Us

A verse I often return to is 1 Corinthians 14 verse 1 which ends 'eagerly desire the spiritual gifts, especially prophecy'. To hear God speaking into a situation must surely be better than heaps of words I could I ever think of or say. Let us let God take us straight to the point!

The passage of course goes on to talk about the corporate experience: how when we are together we need to be mindful of each other and not just ourselves. So what we say and how we speak out must take this into account - hence the whole unintelligible words versus prophecy thing.

What now catches my attention further is the continuation in verse 22 with tongues/prophecy acting as complementary signs. God directly revealing things in the meeting can be enough to convince an unbeliever and propel them towards faith in Christ, causing them to exclaim 'God is really among you!'.

Thats a fantastic point! Prophecy is a sign to us because it reminds us that God is with us, actually among us, revealing and speaking into our (very human) situations. The promise of the Spirit in Joel 2 is that male and female will prophesy, as God is now pleased to dwell in and through our lives. Every time we are enabled to speak or act out God's own words we are reminded of this fact: God has come down to us, He is with us.

No wonder Paul wanted us to be eager for this kind of stuff, especially prophecy.