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United Baptist Church 

Discovering True Purpose 

Together in Jesus

A Pastor's Heart

A Pastor's Heart

Controlling or Enabling

Posted on September 20, 2017 at 5:40 PM

On Wednesdays I teach a course for our Contextualized Leadership Development Program through Gateway Seminary.  This semester the course I am teaching is a walk through Acts and 1 Corinthians.  As we worked our way through the Samaritan Pentecost of Acts 8, I was confronted by the notes for our class.

The primary notes for our class are developed by our Center Director Dr. Fred Creason and in many ways Fred sees application for present ministry in places where I see theological instruction.  Such was the case with this passage.  So I was thunderstruck by the reality of what he shared in response to Peter and John coming down to Samaria to investigate the work of God through Phillip in the area.

In this event God chose to use Peter and John in a special and unique way by bringing the Samaritan Pentecost through their ministry to the Samaritans on the heels of the Gospel ministry of Philip.  This usage of Peter and John also demonstrated that God had opened a new door in Salvation History as the Samaritan people were placed on equal ground with Jewish believers.

However, the reality of God's choice in using Peter and John is coupled with Peter and John's willingess to be used in this ministry.  As they arrived to investigate what was going on they first and foremost recognized that this was God at work among these people.  They, seeing God at work, supported what God was doing among the Samaritans unlike so many others we will see as the Gospel continues its expansion over the known world.  Additionally they refused to resist what God was doing as well.  Perhaps though, second only to recognizing God was at work, their greatest value to this work of God was that they did not strive to control what God was doing.

Many times, with the best of intentions, we seek to control what God is doing within his church and within the church's ministry.  We seek to keep things orderly and tidy.  We strive to manage how things are to be done.  This is no surprise.  We often find comfort in those things that are stable and if we can control what is going on we can provide some level of stablity for ourselves, our church, our relationships, and our ministries.  

However, the desire to control will ultimately destroy the work of God in ministry.  Often in our desire to maintain control we will resist new methods, we will resist new leaders, we will seek credit for what happens, we will fail to distinguish between Biblical necessity and adaptable issues, and many times we will determine that if things are not done my way they will not be done at all.  In our effort to control the ministry and work of God, we often find ourselves killing that which we are seeking to protect.  In order for us to maintain stability, we will lose both our effeciency and our effectiveness in the ministry.

What we see in Peter and John in Acts 8 is a ministry of enabling for the new work.  Enablers multiply the ministry and expand the arena for God to work.  Enablers support new methods for ministry.  Enablers support new leaders as God raises them up within the church.  Enablers desire for God to get the credit for his work through his church.  Enablers understand the difference between Biblical essentials and cultural norms, personal preferences, and historical traditions.  Most of all enablers know that God's ways and their ways are not always the same and that a wide berth is necessary for working with others within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Enablers keep looking for better ways to fulfill God's ministry through their lives.

Fear motivates the controller.  Faith and trust motivates the enabler.  The unknown requires the controller to close his mind.  The unknown requires the enabler to place greater trust in the ideas of others.  The past is the trophy of the controller.  The future is the hope of the enabler.

I am ashamed that I can see much of myself in the controller, but I pray that more and more of my work and my ministry is revealed in the enabler.  I pray that each of us will take some time to read Acts 8.  I pray that we will read it for the miracle of Gospel expansion through the work and power of God that it is.  I pray that we will witness how God moves when his people strive to enable greater ministry.  I pray that we will all move a little further away from our pressing desire to serve as the controller of what God does within his church and that we would all move a little closer to the enabler of what God does within his church.

God bless

Categories: Polity, Discipleship, Bible Study

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