Genesis 46-48 / Matthew 13:1-30
“While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” Acts 13:2
When starting a ministry, our initial focus is often methodology. We decide on systems, strategies and tactics based on what seems most effective, and are later concerned with who will fill a particular role. In our efforts to be effective, we may repeat Gospel tracts or proven evangelistic strategies instead of being completely and utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit. This is not to say methods or strategies should be ignored, but too great an emphasis on them can foster a business mentality about God’s work.
Whenever God intervenes in human activity, He focuses on people first, working through those who are obedient to Him and trust Him. Sometimes these people drop everything, as Abraham did after God had called him to leave his homeland, but other times it takes more convincing. Moses initially begged God to choose someone else to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but after accepting his calling, God turned Moses into one of Israel’s most faithful and devoted leaders. God makes no mistakes when choosing people to do His work, and the only qualification He sets is a willingness to walk according to His instructions.
We see this again in the New Testament as God developed the early church. It had leaders and home bases in Jerusalem and Antioch, but the leaders never let anything become more important than the people doing God’s work. The church did not get bogged down with bureaucracy, but sought the Lord’s will through fasting and praying. In Antioch, God’s response was again people-focused, when the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). As these two pioneers ventured into the Gentile world to preach the Gospel, many people came to believe in the resurrected Christ.
The reason the early church grew as rapidly as it did throughout the Mediterranean was because it focused more on selecting and developing people who did not depend on strategies or methodologies, but on God Himself. Sadly, this is not always the case today. Reverend Sam Pascoe of the Anglican Church explains the shift in how Christianity has functioned over the centuries. He says, “Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship. It moved to Greece and became a philosophy. It moved then to Italy and became an institution. It moved to Europe and became a culture. It came to America and became an enterprise.” As an enterprise, the church is in danger of growing mechanical in its pre-occupation with methodology, but a renewed focus on selecting and developing God-fearing people, dependent on the Holy Spirit, will see the church’s mission grow beyond their expectations.
PRAYER: God, I ask that You keep Your church from becoming a business enterprise. I pray for leadership to be Christ-centered and utterly dependent on Your Spirit and agenda. Thank You, Lord.