Section Three: The Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic One: Having A Servant’s Heart.
Our reading for today: 2nd Corinthians 5: 14-20 (MsgB)
Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in His death so that everyone could also be included in His life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at Him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and Him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with Himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what He is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ Himself now: Become friends with God; He’s already a friend with you.
My mentor, John Wimber, had a straight-forward, crystal-clear approach to doing ministry. It didn’t matter to John if you were a full-time pastor, a part-time pastor, or not a pastor at all. In John’s mind, everyone who considered themselves a follower of Christ was called into full-time ministry with Jesus. So when it came to the subject of serving the Master, John was famous for saying… “Everybody gets to play!”
Back in the day, countless men and women, who were truly interested in serving Jesus with their lives, would flock to John, asking to sit under Wimber and his ministry, so that they too might become actively involved in all they saw John doing with his life. In its heyday, thousands of leaders would gather in massive Vineyard conferences to hear John speak about “doin’ the stuff,” which was Wimber’s code phrase for the specific job assignment Jesus gave His first-century followers (see our last blog session on Luke 9: 1-6).
Jesus…gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God’s Kingdom and heal the sick…Commissioned, they left. They traveled from town to town telling the latest news of God, the Message, and curing people everywhere they went.
I was one of those young Christians anxious to follow John and his growing team of young people into this exciting Kingdom ministry he was talking about. I attended numerous conferences in the earliest days of the Vineyard, and I longed to be nearer this man of God who was speaking about returning to the original ministry of Jesus; saying and doing things for the Master that better reflected the words and deeds I saw Jesus and His disciples doing in the New Testament.
But here’s the rub.
At nearly every Wimber conference I attended back then, I’d always hear John say something that reflected the same theme I hear in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth. John would be adamant. He would say to all of us young leaders who were looking to him for his strong leadership in our lives…(and I’m paraphrasing here)…
“You don’t want to sit under my ministry. You’d hate sitting under my ministry! As a matter of fact, I don’t even have a ministry! Only Jesus has a ministry! And if you’re coming to me to help you find your ministry…forget it! You don’t have a ministry, and quite honestly you’ll never have a ministry! As a matter of fact, if you ever do have a ministry, it’ll be all wrong! Get it?”
You see, like Paul states in today’s passage, for those of us who see ourselves as Christ’s representatives in this world, there is only one focused center we can work from. That center is Christ Himself. He’s the leader and there is no room in His Kingdom for other leaders who bring other ministries to the table. Paul says it clearly here. Jesus of Nazareth has one ministry in mind. The NIV Bible translates it in verses 18-19 as God’s ministry of reconciliation.
So when John Wimber would scold us young whipper-snappers for being so anxious to find our ministries so that we could go out to change the world for Christ, I believe he was doing us a great favor. He was souring us on ourselves. He was sobering us up in the midst of a very intoxicating season when it was easy to envision ourselves going home and doing all the neat stuff John seemed to be doing for Christ.
Looking back now, all these years later, I believe John Wimber was doing us all a great service. He was focusing us on one thing, and one thing alone. And like Paul does here in his letter to the Corinthian church, John was pointing to Jesus alone and saying, like Paul… “as Christ’s representatives, we must do our work in and through Him…our focused center.”
Amen and amen.
My prayer: Father God, it’s very apparent that I, like others who’ve gone before me, can lose my focus when it comes to doing good things for Jesus. Holy Spirit, I ask You to come indwell me and empowered me to keep working at the focused center, following Jesus, the Christ, in all He says and does. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So where have I strayed and lost focus when it comes cooperating with God’s ministry of reconciliation with His world? What will it look like today to enter into that ministry, allowing myself to become the hands and feet of Jesus?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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