Another valuable lesson often learned by church leaders on the field is avoiding the danger of pursuing the kingdom, versus the King.
In John 17:3, Jesus said,
“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
God’s goal for our lives is not merely to serve Him, as a church leader, but to know Him. To love Him. To glorify and enjoy Him. A very common problem with those in ministry, especially those starting and developing new churches, is that they begin to see themselves as primarily servants of God, or soldiers of God. Their view of God becomes primarily that of a Master, or a Commander in Chief. Those pictures of God are true, but there’s so much more.
In John 15, Jesus said, “You are my friends.” That’s richer than merely being a slave or a soldier. In First John 3:1, the Scripture says, see how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God. In Ephesians 5, we see a picture of a bride and bridegroom. The picture of an intimate lover. We must be very careful. It is so easy to be pursuing the kingdom and not the King. Just as you can be pursuing the truth of God, and not the God of truth. Or you can be using God to solve your problems, rather than using your problems to find God.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, we hear these words:
“Thus says the Lord, let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might. Let not a rich man boast of his riches. But, let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows me. That I am the Lord, who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth. For I delight in these things, declares the Lord.”
In Zephaniah 3:17, we have a beautiful picture of the Lord as our victorious warrior. The Scripture says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exalt over you with joy. He will be quiet in his love. He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
Never forget, God’s kingdom has sometimes been called an upside down kingdom.
God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. “But, to this one, I will look,” God says, through the prophet Isaiah, “To him who is humble, and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at my word.” One of the supreme glories of the Gospel is that it is primarily through weakness that God is shown to show His strength.
For consider your calling brothers. That there were not many wise according to the flesh. Not many mighty, not many noble. But, God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. And the base things of the world, and the despised. God has chosen these things that are not, that he might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Oswald Chambers writes, “God can achieve His purpose either through the absence of human power and resources, or the intentional abandonment of your reliance on them. All through history, God has chosen and used nobodies because their unusual dependence on Him made possible the unique display of His power and grace. He chose and used somebodies only when they renounced their dependence on their natural abilities and resources.”
“To you who deem yourself unusually ordinary, be encouraged. God must have liked ordinary people because He made so many of us. Don’t hold your weakness in disdain. That is God’s plan, so that through your weakness, He might manifest His strength. And to those of you who consider yourself unusually gifted, you must be very careful not to trust in your strengths illegitimately. In fact, unless you humble yourself, and renounce your dependence upon them, all your labor, and even your fruit is apt to be in vain. It will all be burned up. Jesus said whoever exalts himself shall be humbled. And whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” – Kent Hughes
The Proverbs teach when pride comes then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. Never forget God’s kingdom is an upside down kingdom. That the way up is the way down. That God’s grace, like water, always flows to the lowest place, the foot of the cross. So, as the old hymn writer says, stoop down, and drink, and live.
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