Wednesday, February 2, 2011

organically grown ministry

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.
1 Corinthians 3:7-9

The Corinthian church wanted to make the Christian life all about celebrity teaching. For them it had become personality driven. But Paul teaches them that they have missed the idea of Christian growth completely. First he calls them big babies (in so many words... see 1 Corinthians 3:1-3), then he reminds them that their divisive celebrity factions were not from God (1 Cor. 3:4). What they missed was the organic metaphor for Christian growth.

Paul gives them a strong agricultural picture to look at. The idea is that a variety of Christian workers had been involved in the ministry of the gospel to the people of Corinth. God had used some of them to plant the seed, some of them to water it, but God was the one who was doing the real work. That metaphor is quite relevant. Just like a farmer can only do so much work, and then must leave his fields to the elements outside his control and totally at God's control, so the church and the spread of the gospel is a work that we participate in, but only in a very limited way. God must be in it, or the crop will not come in.

Organic ministry grows through people doing what God has gifted them to do. They should not become personalities. Paul's phrase is "workers". It is straightforward. It is God's work and He brings us in to use our gifts and abilities. It is not about my personality taking center stage. It is about God's work growing and letting His glory be the goal of all the workers. It is then that we have a harvest worth celebrating.

As a Christian, I ought to consider the organic nature of Christian discipleship when viewing my own Christian growth. God is guiding the process and using His Word, His Holy Spirit, and the ministry of His workers to grow and mature me. I should not get any other picture than this organic one in my mind. It will trip me up as I serve in His field (which is why any pastor who is into self-promotion is nauseating). It will stunt my growth if I miss this picture as well, because I might get pulled away from the essentials of growth in God's field. Instead, I should watch for what God is bringing my way... whether it waters my roots, or pulls up my weeds, and give thanks to Him for this daily way in which He is causing me to grow in Christ!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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