Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In The Hands of the Potter

Reading Dave Black's blog this morning, and again simply revelling in the power of the Holy Spirit, to take a man, who from a fleshly point of view "deserves" accolades, and recognition, and cause him to be a true disciple of Christ. That's what has attracted me to read his blog.

He has learned one of the greatest lessons a Christian can learn. Here is a part of one comment he makes :

"I've been amazed by the number of questions and comments about the church that come up time and again in my discussions with students. Several have realized that becoming the senior pastor of a large church is no longer a goal for them. Whenever I reevaluate my own commitment to Jesus, I am reminded that size and recognition are not important; only faithfulness is. Into my life have come ministries that are insignificant by the world's standards but are part of a long chain of opportunities to serve the Lord with special people who are unsung and unnoticed. I do not feel pressured in the least to be part of a mega-movement or a mega-church or a mega-mission or a mega-anything for that matter. I believe that one is truly wealthy when one is free from these kinds of Spirit-quenching pursuits."

Being recognised as a "somebody" in the wider "Christian" world, is, without doubt, part of the agenda of a large number of people in ministry. It is an evil "seed" which seems to often take root in the hearts and minds of those who are deemed to be pastors, elders, deacons, and many others.

I have had grown men (a couple of them "pastors, as well as deacons), and women, say to me that they are upset because they are not being "appreciated", or "recognised" for all their efforts, or, for the number of "converts" they have made (which makes one fear for the genuineness of the "converts").

"But Jesus called them to Himself and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

When a person begins their ministry with the ambition to be another Wesley, Spurgeon, or Whitfield, he has already negated his calling to be the man God wants him to be.

When a leader's imagination is filled with visions of large congregations, a reputation so grand as to elicit invitations to speak hither and yon, he has already sown the seeds of his own failure as a servant.

The One whom he is supposed to serve, was Himself, a servant, who shunned the limelight, who sought no fame, had no wealth, whose oratorical powers are never mentioned in Scripture, who only did what His Father desired. As the Son of God, the God Man, He had no grand plans for Himself.

And again, Dave wrote:

"Some years ago, on a trip to Israel, I was taken to a pottery shop in the city of Hebron. I stood in amazement as the potter shaped and spun clay into magnificent pots and pitchers. Suddenly he stopped his work. Taking a clay pot he had just finished shaping, he pushed it back into a clump and tossed it away. I was aghast. The pot looked fine to me. Perfect, in fact. But the potter's eyes had caught some tiny defect, and the pot had to be completely remolded.All of us are like clay pots in the hands of the Potter.

I like to think of our upcoming seminar on ecclesiology (Alan Knox will be the speaker) as an affirmation of our willingness to allow God to do His "beautifying" work in our lives. I know that's true for me. I am ready to reaffirm before God that I am willing to allow Him to shape my thinking about His Bride. Such shaping means learning from failures and mistakes. It means asking God to uncover those unbiblical presuppositions that lie beneath the surface of my consciousness. It means releasing my agenda and giving it to Him for His resolution. I believe that God has purposes for my church -- and yours -- that He has not yet unfolded. Cooperation with the Divine Potter means risk and potential failure. I'm sure it will mean of lot of difficult decisions. Friends, let's not settle for the status quo. Let's keep on growing into maturity. Let's sharpen and expand our thinking. Let's learn new insights from the Old Book. Let's ask good questions that pave the way for further dialog. Let's allow ourselves to be remolded and reshaped. I think that is vastly preferable to being tossed back into the clay pile, don't you? But even if that is what God has to do with me, I am willing!"

Now! There's a man who will "hear" God's voice.

Seven years ago, I attended a conference in the North of the USA. Like many I have attended in this country, I realised that I was amongst those who had a human oriented presupposition of what God's precious bride should be, and an agenda to match.

That realisation is embodied in the importance of these words from the above quote: "I am ready to reaffirm before God that I am willing to allow Him to shape my thinking about His Bride. Such shaping means learning from failures and mistakes. It means asking God to uncover those unbiblical presuppositions that lie beneath the surface of my consciousness. It means releasing my agenda and giving it to Him for His resolution."

All I can say is "AMEN!"

2 comments:

Steven Owen said...

Aussie John,
This is something I have gone through in my travailings. I thought as well that I would one day be a pastor of some sort. I just knew there was a great ministry waiting for me.
"BUT GOD", had other plans. He told me to be a stay at home dad.
Then later He moved my family and I 400 miles from our home town. Now I help out in a mobile home park ministry where I am on the sidelines helping people no one else would allow in a building. No fanfare, no noteriety. Just the way the Lord wanted it.
I love it. It makes me tear up just to think of what a blessing it is to be in the trenches where no one knows my name outside of those who I minister to.
Thank you kind sir, Steven Owen

Aussie John said...

Steven,

Thank you for commenting.

You say, "to be in the trenches where no one knows my name outside of those who I minister to."

Brother! There is One, above all others, who knows your name and your heart as well, the ONE Shepherd of the sheep, the ONLY Pastor to His congregation, the Lord Jesus Christ.

You're ministering where He ministered,"in the trenches"!

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