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GOD’S PEOPLE ARE NOT SIMPLY ASSETS TO AN ORGANIZATION
Getting back to the story of the children of Israel in the book of exodus. If you remember the story God took his society of people, who were many [big numbers] and he brought them through stages to lead them into a place where they would become a self-sustaining entity on their own [with God as their king!]. They were living in Egypt and being ruled over by taskmasters. The bondage they were under was an expectation to produce a certain amount of building materials in order for the cities of man to be built. The cities represented the images and personas of men. In the process of God delivering them from this bondage of image building he raises up Moses [a type of Christ]. Moses God given prophetic authority begins to confront mans authority [pharaoh] and begins a process of freeing the people from this mindset of being ruled over in order to produce things so the images of men would be glorified [ouch!].
As Moses confronts mans authority, he at the same time leads the people on a journey. The journey is exciting and life changing, but it also has many risks and pitfalls. The children of Israel’s response determined how long this journey would take. The more they complained about this new walk and all of the difficulties involved with it, the longer it would take before they could enter a place of rest and true self rule [under God]. During this season of testing and trial in the wilderness they actually longed to go back into a system of being ruled over because the old system provided a sense of stability and structure that they were comfortable with, despite the fact that they were slaves in it! In process of time they [their children] eventually do enter into the promised land of self-rule.
They obtain their own national identity [the nation of Israel] apart from simply existing under another’s identity [Egypt] and God begins leading them with the assistance of prophets and judges and elders [a type of plural leadership flowing freely in society]. During process of time they reach a stage where they see how all the other nations are ruled [watch out!] and decide that they too want a king [man] to rule over them. Wow, after all that God brought them through to deliver them from mans control you would think they wouldn’t have done this! Well God actually says that by doing this they are rejecting his leadership for the leadership of men. He even warns them that this type of ‘mans rule’ will take of their best men and use them for the self-advancement of his dynasty. God says this king will even demand the tithes of the people in order to fund his kingdom [wow]. I guess when God says that the things that happened to Israel were for a sign for us so we don’t make the same mistakes; he really means it [1st cor.10]!
Many times in our present understanding of church we view people as assets to our ‘organization.’ ‘Wow if I could just get that talented person as a staff member in our church’. This way of viewing people as things that can help our organizations grow is the ‘Saul’ mindset ‘he will take of your best men’ mentality. People have intrinsic value, they are valuable in Gods eyes because of the simple fact that Christ died for them and has purchased them with his blood. People are not objects or tools to be looked upon as assets to an organization. If you were to adopt a child [a very noble task] hopefully you would do it because you loved the child and wanted to be with them. If this child later found out that you did this in order to gain some type of benefit [like a tax deduction or something of this nature] your child would be devastated. So when we view Gods children [the true church] as objects that will help advance our ‘churches’ [organizations] we devalue them.
I am not saying here that all present models of leadership in the church are ‘mans rule’, but a large degree of it is. There is so much image building that goes on in the church that it’s not even funny. Much of the collecting of tithes is simply a process where one leader is in competition with the other in order to ‘out build’ him, and a lot of times the people begin to simply be weekly attendees of our meetings who we deliver messages to and then hope to bring in a huge offering so the image of ‘our church’ can gain a degree of respect in the community. Like I said before, there is nothing inherently wrong with ‘big churches’ or ministries, but we must be careful that as we build we are not doing it at the expense of Gods true heritage [the people of God!].
If we can grasp the concept of Gods people actually being the vehicle that God uses to express His image and purpose in the earth, then we will stop viewing them as being simply a resource pool to accomplish ministry goals. My own prayer time has evolved as I began to see these truths. I used to spend a lot of time praying for the success of ‘my ministry’ but as I’ve come to see these truths I focused my prayer time more on the actual purposes of God to be made manifest through all the people we relate to. I began praying for God to accomplish and activate his purposes directly through his people. I began viewing ministry as not so much ‘something I am building for God’ but as the expression of his Son being developed and manifested through the people I relate to. If the people you influence over your life are truly impacted by the person of Christ, then in essence you have had a successful ministry. Many of these approaches to ministry will obviously not have the same amount of outward ministry things to look to [like buildings] therefore the concept of not building for the honor of men must be fully grasped by those who take on this style of ministry. This way of seeing and doing ministry also allows you to be free from having to raise large amounts of money in order to accomplish ministry goals. God truly can and will use any believer to expand his kingdom in the earth as you begin to see ministry this way.
Jesus simple way of sending the disciples out and telling them not to worry about purse or scrip [money. I like the way the message bible puts it ‘don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this, you are the equipment. No special appeals for funds, keep it simple’ Mark 6] shows us the simplicity of all believers being able to carry out ministry by virtue of the fact that Christ is in us. This is what I tried to stress earlier, that as you begin to view ministry as a simple function of Christ revealing and manifesting himself through his people, then this is something we all can do all the time. No big process of raising money [no special appeals for funds] but simply being a Christian in society and interacting with God and fellow believers in all types of situations makes the presence of Christ manifest [where 2 or more are gathered there am I in the midst]. It is common today to view ministry as a function of professionals and the need for them to raise money for projects causes there to exist in the Christian community a mindset where good Christians are always appealing for funds in order to accomplish some project. This actually projects the image that ministry is some type of a separate function apart from us. This really violates the whole concept of ministry being a natural outgrowth of believers being in right relationship with God [John 15].
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