Thursday, April 19, 2018
Philippians 2:13 …for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone..
I love maps. I miss maps. GPS has ruined my life. Not really, but I love maps.
When I was in 4th grade, I remember spending hours drawing maps of Africa and South America, carefully putting in all of the country boundaries and major topographical elements like rivers and mountains. I loved imagining what it would be like to travel to those places. When I travel anywhere today I love to look at the map before I go, and discover in advance what I am going to see and what route I am going to take. I carefully evaluate every possible option, and depending upon the reason for the trip, I will determine which roads to travel – the speedy ones or the scenic ones. If it’s a route I have traveled before, I first consider if there is an alternate way to get there because I don’t like going the same way every time. I want to experience all the different ways to get to a final destination.
I understand that there are probably more people who like consistency than there are those who like change, but I am glad that I like diversity. I think this is an asset to leadership, especially in the church. Imagine what your church would be like if everyone wanted things to stay the same all the time. Maybe you don’t have to imagine. Sorry. I believe it is incredibly important for leaders to be able to discover, understand, and empower all the possibilities that exist to accomplish goals.
That’s what God has done in all of us. Not one of us is identical, and not one of us is equipped for serving God in the same way as another. Paul tells us that it is God who works in us to transform our will and to produce activity that accomplishes His good purpose (see yesterday’s devotional). God is putting forth His power in us to show Himself operative in our activity. Yet everyone’s activity is different. The destination is the same – God’s good purpose – but the route we all take is different. Our only concern should be that we are taking a route that is on God’s map. Be careful here – we are not talking about different routes to salvation; there is only one way, and it is Jesus. But we are speaking clearly about the incredible diversity God designed into the body of Christ to accomplish His good purpose.
I admit the church today has lost some confidence in God’s way because too many people are taking personal routes that are not approved by God. We have also lost a lot of momentum because too many Christians have demanded that everyone’s activity be the same. God has a map for accomplishing the mission of Christ, and He has placed on that map all the approved routes we may take to complete the course. Some of us may take the scenic route, while others will stay on the interstate system. I prefer to try them all, including the back roads – just ask my family. But if it’s not on the map, then I don’t take it.
I have great confidence in the body of Christ which God has asked me to lead, because I know they are always checking their map. I also appreciate them because they allow for alternate routes to be considered and taken by each individual. I wholeheartedly believe that this brings about the fullness of joy God intends for every church to experience.
How about you and your church? Do you get to see and experience the incredible diversity of God through the affirmation of people’s unique gifts and ministries, or are you stuck in a rut on a gravel road that’s been formed because it’s the road everyone is expected to travel?