God...in the Church

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.—Proverbs 3:5-6

Do you trust God?
Your initial response is probably, “Yes, of course I do.” But what about trusting God when you don’t understand what he’s doing? What about trusting God when he asks you to do something you fear? Do you trust God then?

What if… we trusted God, even when his plans didn’t make sense to us?

Scripture tells us a lot about the character of God and how abundantly good he is. “Who is like our God?” (Ps. 113:5). No one. He is loving and kind, and he chose to save us even while we were dead in our sins! Who does that? The thought that this God would send his only Son to earth to live with us, to dwell with us, is extremely humbling.

It also makes no sense to us.

Couldn’t God have figured out a way to save the world without leaving his comfortable heavenly realm to walk this earth as one of us? There have been times when God has done things that just make no sense to us. How about the battle of Jericho? Marching around the city walls while playing trumpets and shouting? Seriously?

I have also often wondered why God chose to use the people of the Church to accomplish his mission of sharing the good news of Jesus with the world. To say that we are flawed is an understatement. We’re better at reflecting our sinful selves than our loving Savior. Why then would God choose imperfect you and imperfect me to share his gospel? I don’t understand it, but he did. It’s not our job to know why God does what he does, but rather to trust him, no matter what. Even when we don’t understand his ways, his ways are perfect.

Thankfully, he didn’t leave us on our own. He sent the Holy Spirit to equip us, empower us, and guide us in our task of sharing the good news. I’ve heard it said that the key to evangelism isn’t found in some special method, but rather in each of us believers—our words, our personalities, our relationships—as the Lord equips us with the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. We are each a unique creation; we are divinely placed in our own corners of the world, with our own realm of influence. Do we rely on the Holy Spirit as we talk about the gospel, or do we lean on our own understanding, questioning God’s plan to use us?

What if... we stopped trying to make sense of God’s ways and started trusting him as we love our neighbors?

After trusting, comes submitting. If we trust God and his ways, then we must submit by obeying him. Yet we fall short. We are experts at hiding our lights under bushels of “good” excuses (Matt. 5:15). But God knew this when he chose the Church as his instrument. He knew we would struggle to obey, and he chose to use us anyway! He didn’t say, “Once you get cleaned up and have everything figured out, then go share the good news with your neighbor!” No, he has called every believer, every part of the body of Christ, to work together to get the message out there. Every one of us, without exception!

Personally, I wonder if God could have chosen a better plan, or more qualified people, to accomplish his all-important mission, but I’m not God! Who am I to claim to know better than the One who flung the stars into space, who spoke the world into existence, who heals the blind and parts the sea? We must trust and submit. Stop making excuses and start obeying our God!

Does this mean we must stand on the street corner and preach? No, God helps each of us in our own unique way to share his message of grace and truth. This is our very purpose on this earth, and this glorifies our God in heaven! Out of our love for him, and as a response to what he has done through his Son, Jesus Christ, we desire to live our lives wholeheartedly for him. Others will see this light in us and be drawn to the power that is at work within us (Eph. 1:19). We don’t have to do anything but be ourselves as we live our lives, fully and intentionally, for God!

We will fail. We are imperfect people and an imperfect Church, but God has intentionally put us together in the Church, to be part of the Body, to encourage one another when we mess up, and to remind each other that in repentance we find the promised forgiveness of God (1 John 1:9). We can remind one another that although we will fail, and the way is rough, and rejection hurts—when things don’t always make sense to us—God knows all this! He has not left us alone on this journey, but has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. This is such comforting news. When we rely on his strength and his power to do what he asks, we cannot fail.

Though this world is dark, the light of Christ “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!” This, from John 1:5, speaks of the light of the incarnation of Christ. Now God has commanded the Church, which is you and me, to be his light by sharing Jesus with our friends and neighbors. As Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.”

We will not be overcome by the darkness because we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can stand for God by choosing to live for him and by showing love to our neighbors, despite their differences, despite their worldly behavior. God’s love should shine within us. People are watching and will see, and Lord willing, will one day return to their Father in heaven!

Will you trust God today? Will you trust his plan to use you to share his good news with your neighbors? Will you submit to him and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s plan through you?

What if… you did?
Alyssa McIvor serves as a Lutheran Brethren pastor’s wife in Fullerton, California, teaching Bible Studies and singing on the worship team. Alyssa is a speaker, songwriter, and Bible Study author.

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