He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:17-18)
We tend to think of ourselves as the primary movers in matters of faith, that we have laid our own plans out and have sought the Lord to bless them and to help us. But the Bible has exactly the opposite perspective, that it is God who is the primary mover and He has made His plans and has sought us out in order to bless us. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
Everything depends on the choosing of God, of His calling to our hearts, and of His moving in our lives that we might turn from sin and turn to Him in faith. And not just in our lives, but in the lives of those around us. God takes the initiative in all things spiritual. And when we have dedicated our lives to Him it is God who invites us to join Him on His mission – it is NOT us who invite God to join us on our mission. It is no mistake or mere mindless expression that we call being a Christian “following Christ.” We follow Him. We do not lead Him and ask Him to follow us.
And this was also the modus operandi of Jesus. Jesus saw His own work while on earth as entirely dependent on the Father. He said: “To this very day My Father is at His work, and I too am working… the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it” (John 5:17-19). God shows us what He is doing and then invites us to join Him. And He said our work for Him is entirely dependent on Him: “I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
There are always those Christians around who are more excited about what they are doing for God than what He is doing for them. They are more committed to their plans than to God’s plans. And there is also a negative reaction by others against some of the things that they think are being done by human will and not by God’s Spirit. But this reaction can also be just a show of the old sinful man in us. It is often the suspicion against human will that is done also by human will, and the fear that they will also not get their own way. In fact, I am often amazed at what is considered wrong and “evil” by some. Some in Europe have a built-in prejudice against large churches, consigning them all together as “evil.” And, sadly, they fail to note that the very first church in the Bible was several thousand strong, multi-cultural, and with multiple staff members (see Acts 2:37-47).
But the Christian life and ministry become fun when we start to grasp this principle of seeing God at work, and joining Him on His mission. In fact, Christ said God showed Him what He was doing out of love: “The Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does. And to your amazement, He will show Him even greater works than these” (John 5:20). And Christ called us to also “abide” in His love:
As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11)
Christ calls us to joy, to join Him on His mission, to follow Him and see how He is at work.
Whenever we do not grasp this principle of God taking the initiative in all things spiritual, then we will rely too strongly on marketing, innovation, our own will, and getting our way. We will make ourselves the “heroes” of a story that has only one true Hero – Christ Himself. But if we can grasp this truth of His leadership, and get out of the way and simply follow, then we will find ministry and church to be exciting. God is at work!