Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Mystery of God's Sovereignty and Our Vision

...It is not so much that we as ministers need to understand and accomplish God's purpose, will, or vision for the church; what we need to understand is that God will accomplish his purpose for the church and in the mysteries of his grace he may use us in the process.

It may be valuable at time to determine the direction of the church, but the danger of "vision casting" is that we as church leaders can become anthropocentric in our approaches, focusing on what we do rather than on what God is doing.  Our participation is not necessary for God to accomplish his plan any more than our resistance can thwart his purposes (Job 42:2, Isa. 46:11, Acts 17:25).  thus, the most important requirement for participating in God's purpose for the church is not a clear vision, but a submissive will.  When we become willing vessels for God to use in whatever capacity he chooses, when we obey his Word and submit to him, God accomplishes his work through us whether we understand or comprehend his purpose or not.  Likewise, Christ is not a cosmic cheerleader, rooting us on and hoping we will  "win" in building the church.  No, he is sovereignly active, taking personal responsibility for the health of the church.  In the  process, he may use us, remove us, or work around us, but he will build his church (Matt. 16:18, Eph 5:11-16).

We give ourselves far too much credit for the success and growth of the church.  The church is ultimately the work of God's sovereignty, not our best efforts and strategies.  Sometimes, God accomplishes his purposes by revealing his will in very dramatic and comprehensible ways.  At other times. he accomplishes his purpose when we are confused and unclear about what he is doing...

...For all the research, studies, and statistics, the bottom line is no one knows why some churches grow and some do not.  We cannot even adequately define success in ministry.  This is the mystery of God.  In our ministries, we forget that God cannot be reduced to programs, strategies, and methodologies.  He often uses them, but he is not controlled by them.  As pastors of small churches, we often get discouraged because our visions do not materialize and our people do not embrace them.  We become discouraged when one outreach program after another fails to attract new people.  We forget the mystery of God.  Perhaps God's purpose is not found in the fulfillment or our visions but in the failure of them.  Perhaps God's purposes are accomplished when we think we have been the least successful (Isa. 6:9-13, Ezek. 2:5-8).  Perhaps God's purposes are not being accomplished through us but in us.  This is the mystery of God that we often forget.  God is good, but he is not to be trifled with or manipulated.  He is not a God of our creation; nor is he a God that we can manage.  As Creator of all things and sovereign God of the universe, he doesn't have to conform to our expectations of what he should or should not do.

Glenn Daman
Leading the Small Church
Pages 44-46

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