Authority Over Ability
December 18, 2015
Lindsey and I have had the privilege of meeting with several people over the past few months to share our vision for Vancouver. The responses we have received and the prayers that have been prayed over us have been truly humbling. We are so grateful for the opportunity to invite others to join in the calling that God has laid on our hearts. Our desire is not simply to plant a church (or churches), but to be a part of building the Kingdom of God.
As I have studied the book of Acts and done some reading on discipleship this Fall, I have been reminded of this beautiful reality - the church began with 12 ordinary men (...okay 11 men). These weren't just ordinary men, they were unlikely men. One of the most beautiful things about the Kingdom is that God uses ordinary, unlikely people to bring about extraordinary transformation with the power of the gospel.
Just before Jesus ascends to heaven, He gives his followers one final command:
"And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20
I can imagine Jesus as He gives the Great Commission to his small band of renegade followers. As he looks at the ex-fisherman, former tax collector, the rejects of the religious order, ex-prostitutes and women (who were considered a separate social class), Jesus doesn't see their ability. He isn't banking on their talent or power of persuasion, and he certainly isn't putting his confidence in their influence on society. The key to the spread of the gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom is found in the first and last sentence of Matthew 28:18-20. They were sent out on mission with the power (v 18) and the presence (v 20) of the Savior Himself.
Our Kingdom impact is not dependent on our ability, but rather on our dependence on Christ's authority.
So often, we as pastors and church planters like to focus on all the in-between lines of the Great Commission - "Go, make disciples, baptize, and teach." And we SHOULD do these things. But none of these aspects of discipleship can be fruitful apart from the power and presence of God Almighty.
We can be quick to replicate a particular strategy that seems effective, or the personality of a person that we have seen God use in a unique way. At times, I have been guilty of this in my own ministry. We typically do this with the intention of wanting God to do something spectacular; just like we've seen with other ministries using that model, or just like that vibrant, extroverted pastor who draws crowds. The only problem is that others' reasons for success aren't held in the method (although we should always seek effective ways to reach people with the gospel) or the personality (but the way we communicate the Word of God matters). Their success is found in the power and presence of Christ, and God wants to work uniquely in and through every Christian. That includes you.
Are you trusting in your own effort, righteousness, or influence to impact the Kingdom? Or are you mimicking the life of another Christian you admire, hoping that God would use you in the same way? If so, there's good news for you.
Jesus loves you the way you are and he desires to use you for who you are. Trust in his power and cling to his presence.
As I think about the journey ahead, I am so grateful that my influence on the Kingdom is not connected to my ability, but rather my dependence on Christ's authority to transform hearts. God uses the most unlikely people for His Kingdom purposes.