Thursday, May 22, 2008

Inspite of, Because of

This evening during a leaders meeting at church we'd asked a man to join us to report on an area of ministry. At one stage in the conversation he was making the point that he does NOT have the gift of evangelism. He insisted it was obvious because of the obvious natural limitations of his personality (yes, he's naturally a bit of a socially awkward, reclusive fellow).

We suggested that the proof that indeed he does have the gift of evangelism is that he is out doing the work of an evangelist in our church's inner city "hood" daily and that many (0n the order of 60) have come into the fellowship as a result of his efforts over the past 18 months or so. The proof of spiritual gift in evidence is the obvious lack of any natural interpersonal ability that he was born with or possessed naturally. His passion for outreach and effectiveness of his witness is in no way the result of his natural ability.
How's that for a backhanded compliment/affirmation? LOL!

A recent sermon given by a visiting missionary came to mind. This old trade school mate of mine has spent the last 20+ years in Ethiopia. His message that Sunday was built on the story of a lame man in Ethiopia. This lame man felt a strong call to take the gospel to a remote mountain valley where the natives were hostile to outsiders. It was a difficult hike over rough mountain trails that took a couple days for a normal man. For this disabled man it appeared to be an impossible undertaking. However, he was convinced of God's call to him to make the trip. Inspite of this many in the church discouraged him from even thinking about going to that remote area. They thought he was nuts.

Now as I said, not only was this man paralyzed on one side of his body making the trek seem a ridiculous proposition, but, the people in that valley were hostile to outsiders. Outsiders usually only survived a few days in that valley before being killed.

Well, long story short, the lame man made the trek anyway. It took him 5 days and he arrived in the remote valley bloodied and bruised from falls along the way. Amazingly, he was welcomed by the residents of the valley! It turns out that in this tribe's history they'd had an epidemic that had crippled and disabled many children. This tribe was unusual. This tribe had chosen to care for their disabled instead of turning them out to die of exposure (as is typically the case in the area of Ethiopia). To this day they still gave special care and honor to the disabled.

Because (not inspite of) this man's disability he was welcomed into their homes instead of being killed. Several years later there now are hundreds of Christians in that area and dozens of churches.
In this case a man was used because of his limitations -- not inspite of his limitations.

If you have a limitation, it may be there expressly so that God can use you. Think of the blind man born blind (and who lived blind into adulthood) so that the glory of God could be demonstrated through Jesus.
II Corinthians 12: 9,10

"9 but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. "

God's glory and power is shown in our weakness. Funny thing that.

The missionary speaker went on to remind us that in the gospel story of the talents the Master of the house said "Well done good and faithful servant." What's interesting in this context of this post is that the Master of the house did not say something like "Well done good and talented servant."
He did not say gifted, or strong or smart servant, or productive or effective or fruitful servant...

It was the servant's faithfulness that was recognized and rewarded by the Master.

Faithfulness... Where have I heard that word before? Isn't that a fruit of the Spirit or something?

Christians are called to be faithful. Leave the amount of gift and the amount of fruit to the Lord.


FbL said...

Sorry to thread-jack, but I can't find an email for you...

I've seen your name around lex's place, but it never clicked for me until just now. Didn't realize you were in SD, either.

Does your handle mean you were with VAW-113? If so, when?

be603 said...

No problem. Yep, Navy transplant to San Diego. Was in 113 from Winter 85 to early 88. Went to FCDSSA from there. First flight of the boat was in 603. Hence the handle.

What about you?

Thought for sure I'd go "home" after mustering out but inertia won out. Almost 20 years later and I have trouble finding long pants. Guess that makes me a Californian now -- who'd a thunk it...

FbL said...

No, I'm not Navy. I just know someone who was once in VAW-113. After your time, though.

As to location, I try not to make it too obvious, but we are neighbors.