- - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The challenge: Efficiency vs. availability

A sick woman snuck her way through the crowd, reached out and took what she didn’t even ask for. She stole a bit of healing power from Jesus. Though on a mission to save a child on the verge of death, He stopped in His tracks. He stopped to give that power-stealing woman a blessing — much more than she came to take.

And the sick little girl, who was first in line, died because the Great Physician took his time getting to her. He spent precious time caring for the woman who wasn’t even on his schedule. And that little girl’s family grieved.

Didn’t Jesus know how urgent the job He agreed to was? Didn’t He know He was letting the young girl die when He stopped to talk? That the sick woman who waited 12 years to be healed would be satisfied without the added blessing?

We would have prioritized differently. We know what our important jobs are, and we have our to-do lists to prove it. So we rush from one task to the next, unconcerned about what we pass up along the way, avoiding anything that could get in the way.

But Colossians 3:1-2 presents a challenge to that line of living. The Message version says: “Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ — that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

What was His perspective when He stopped to give a blessing and let a little girl’s life end?

He knew that every opportunity He had to bless was an opportunity ordained by God, and He knew it is God who determines life and death. He knew that His ministry was one of availability. And what was the result?

When Jesus finally arrived at the girl’s home, it was “filled with people weeping and wailing” (Luke 8:52). He went in, took the child’s hand, and told her to wake up. “And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up!” (Luke 8:55).

There it is: Christ had an eternal perspective, an unwavering faith that God’s good will would rein in abundance if He made himself available to give blessings along His way, if He made himself available to the people God placed in His path.

If we are to represent Christ in the world, we must see from His perspective, interact with others according to His perspective. But how do we mold our thinking, our acting to His — which seems so impractical? How can we grab hold of His eternal eyes and glue them to our temporal minds? How do we love people like Jesus did when there is so much important work to be done?

The hope: Kingdom vision

In his book “Theirs Is the Kingdom,” Robert D. Lupton wrote:

“The fundamental building blocks of the kingdom are relationships. Not programs, systems or productivity. But inconvenient, time-consuming, intrusive relationships. The kingdom is built on personal involvements that disrupt schedules and drain energy. When I enter into redemptive relationships with others, I lose much of my ‘capacity to produce desired results with a minimum expenditure of energy, time, money or materials.’ In short, relationships sabotage my efficiency. A part of me dies. Is this perhaps what our Lord meant when He said we must lay down our lives for each other?”

Every time we make the decision to invest in a relationship, we are sacrificing the time, energy and resources we could be investing anywhere else.

But in the same way God took Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and raised Him up in glory — raised Him up to multiply His life throughout the earth and expand the Kingdom of Heaven — God will take our little sacrifices and raise them up into a far greater glory than we could imagine. We just have to be willing to let go and let our plans, our schedules, our lives be interrupted.

Matthew 6:33-34 in the Message reads: “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.”

The Christian life demands we trust that God will protect, preserve and provide for those who faithfully and daringly relinquish full control. When we let the relationships God brings into our lives take priority above our agendas, when our relationship with God comes first and our relationship with those around us comes in a close second, the rest falls into place.

It’s not an easy thing to do. To be kingdom-focused and kingdom-driven, we have to intentionally steep our lives in the things of God. We need to steep our lives in His Word, in believing community and in prayer. If we do so, our perspective will shift over time, and our minds will become more like Christ. We will become more and more available to God, enabling His power to work in and through as we go along our away.


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