Thursday, April 29, 2010

GOD DOES NOT "USE" PEOPLE

I hear people ask God to use them all the time, and I know what they mean to say, but I have to make it clear that God never uses us. He does partner with us in the work of the Kingdom. He does invite us to serve others and to show love to those who have never seen what real love is. There's plenty of opportunity for you and I to cooperate with the work that God is already doing in the world today. But, we are not tools that God uses to accomplish a goal.

Where does this phrase come from, anyway? I've scoured the scriptures and I cannot find anywhere where a prophet or apostle, or anyone else, ever said anything about how God "uses" His people.

What we do see is an invitation to follow the example that Jesus left us. We're compelled by the love of Christ to submit ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice. We're even commanded to spur one another on to do good works and to use our God-given gifts to build up our brothers and sisters in the Church.

Jesus said that his Father was always at work and that he only did what he saw the Father doing. We're invited to take part in that same work of the Kingdom. But, I don't see where we are asked to let God use us like puppets, or objects.

Maybe I'm just playing word games here. Or maybe I've spent too much time listening to friends tell me about how they were "used" by the people they were supposed to be able to trust completely. I don't know.

Maybe this language about God "using" us is part of why so many in the Church find it impossible to fully trust God? Perhaps it's the idea that God is so much bigger than we are and so much more powerful. He is all-powerful and we are weak, empty and foolish.

Yet, that's what Jesus is doing on the cross when he lays down and submits himself to us. In effect, Jesus is saying, "Look. This is what I am really like. Not only will I not use my power to abuse you, I will lay aside my power and allow you to abuse me."

If our God is able to take our pain and punishment upon Himself and turn our own insecurities and sin into the fuel for our salvation, I think this is a God we can trust completely.

Words matter. What we say, and the terms we use to describe our faith are especially powerful and revealing. I have the same reaction whenever someone refers to a passage in the Bible as a "story". Many of us talk about scripture this way, but for the record, the Bible is a book of history. it is not a story book.

Words are revealing. For example, if we call "Church" something with four walls, or that thing we do on Sunday morning, then we really do not understand what the word "Church" means at all. If we say that the leader of our church is "Pastor Smith", then we don't actually consider that Jesus is the leader of our church.

At any rate, when it comes to saying that God uses us, I guess I'd love for us to be a little more specific and exact in our language. I'd love for us to find new ways to talk to one another about how wonderful it is that we have the privelege of cooperating with the ongoing ministry of Jesus. Certainly we can find better ways of communicating to the world about what it means to serve others without suggesting that we are mindless, spineless puppets of God.

"You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." - Jesus (John 15:14-16)

**
kg

14 comments:

featuring chas pike said...

semantics. a destroyer of language and hostage taker of thought. God will use us to his purpose wether we invite him to or not. willing participation is not a predicate to God's ability to achieve.

Traeshawn said...

I very much like this different approach of how God partners with us to accomplish the work of the Kingdom. It definitely might change the mind of people who call us "tools".

CovenantBride said...

exactly right...God sent Jesus Christ...and He accomplished all and finished all...

i been heard heard church folk talk about how God gonna bless u so u can bless others...so the blessin not really fa u in the first placed...

its more world church interpretation of scripture without the Holy Spirit...a long time ago, the Lord told me exactly tha God dont use ppl He use Christ and we, bein in Christ, are witness Him...

how sad tha so many ppl see God as an employer rather than our Father who provides for each of us...

thx fa postin... -g-

Swanny said...

Some verses that could suggest God using us come to my mind. From the New American Standard version. NIV is similar. These verses suggest that God has purposes in mind, and that we can be more or less useful to him for these purposes.


2 Timothy, chapter 2:

20. Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.
21. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

Romans, chapter 9:

20. On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God ? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?
21. Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Swanny for quoting the scripture.

To Keith, I would like to add to that list the following,

1. Exodus 9:16

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

2. Book of Hosea: This whole book is about God showing the Israelites’ unfaithfulness and adultery committed against God through Hosea (prophet) whom God commanded to be married to an adulterous wife Gomer.

3. Judges 13:3-5

The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines."

4. Luke 6:46

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

5. Did not Christ, the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the world? To which Christ was in agony before He was crucified and asked God to take away the sins of the world by some other means. Yet, Christ said, "Thy will be done." Or should God have used someone else to express God's love?

6. 1 Corinthians 7:22

For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave.

7. Romans 12:1

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Does God use the believers for evil? Does He not reward them for sharing the suffering of Christ? If this world is passing away and God is going to judge the world to rid of evil, how much more should the true believers be servants of God? You say that you can't find the utility of servitude in the scripture?

May the Lord punish you according to your divination and idolatry, for dividing the word of God according to the wisdom of the world. And may the Lord blot out your name from the book of life for setting yourself as a stumbling block.

Keith Giles said...

My dearest "Anonymous",

I think you have misunderstood my article, and perhaps that's because you really didn't read all of it very carefully?

At any rate, I am not suggesting that God does not work through us, nor do I suggest that we are not servants of God. In fact, if you had ever read my other articles (over a thousand or so, here I think), you'd see that I am very much in favor of the idea of following Jesus and being a disciple, and obedience to Jesus daily, etc.

That's why my first book was entitled "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)" - which is a facetious title meant to beg the question of obedience. That book is all about following Jesus, submitting to His will, and serving Him with your whole heart.

Thank you for condemning to eternal darkness. No one has ever done that before. I consider it an honor to suffer for the sake of the Gospel.

Bless you, my friend.

Peace,
kg

featuring chas pike said...

anonymous, those are some very harsh words. i pray that you learn to have a heart for others, that you will employ the power of prayer, and leave condemnation to the Lord.
keefus, looks like you arent the only one who enjoys his coffee.

JavaJeff said...

Matthew 7 would be an appropriate passage for Anonymous to review while he goes about thrusting standards about. You are not accountable for Keith, you are only accountable for yourself. By the way, you desire truth? What is your name?

Sports fan said...

"Anonymous",

Your words seem to have hate hurt and hate in them. For a Christian to wish another to Hell seems counter to what Jesus taught.

In a way your words reminded me of those of James and John when they wanted to destroy some who they found offensive. "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?". But Jesus rebuked them and said: "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village." Luke 9:53-56.

Please remember the Lord’s prayer:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

If you are unwilling to forgive what you believe is an offense in Keith you are asking our Lord not to forgive you. (“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.”)

Understanding how to love our enemies as Jesus taught is a key to understanding how Jesus loved us. And with that understanding comes a multitudes of new ways to serve and Love our Lord.

God Bless You “Anonymous”. You are in my prayers.

John Lamoreau

Anonymous said...

To Keith,

You said, "I've scoured the scriptures and I cannot find anywhere where a prophet or apostle, or anyone else, ever said anything about how God "uses" His people."

So what about them who are mislead by what you have wrote?

Don't you remember how God punished the twelve tribes of Israel for a single disobedience? Why should the entire Israelites suffer for one person's sin?

JavaJeff says that I'm not accountable to you and what I've said is of my standard, but I have quoted nothing other than the scripture.

Am I my brother's keeper? If I do not care about what you say in light of scripture, certainly, I do not care about what happens to you.

So if a member of the body of Christ sins, the rest suffers, and oh how the body of Christ is divided and suffering...

Am I accused of judgement for pointing out what is not consistent with the scripture? If I see my brother or sister in Christ going astray, should I do nothing? Are we not called to be 'brother's keepers'?

To JavaJeff,

Was Moses, Joshua, Jeremiah and others without sin that they preached the laws of God? If we are not without sin, then who can quote and teach the scripture?

To Sportsfan,

My first comment is summed up in the following verses,

Matthew 18:6

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

James 3:1

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

How painful is it that the Lord's grace needs to abound because sin abounds. But it is so because His merciful loving kindness for the flock to come to repentance. So should we sin so that grace and forgiveness may abound? Yes, thank you, pray for me, and if possible, pray for us all.

Keith Giles said...

My dearest "anonymous",

I think you're overreacting in the extreme here.

My article is attempting to provide a different perspective on the way that we co-labor with God in the Kingdom.

I'm simply attempting to provide clearer language for what it means for us to work alongside the Father in the work He is already doing.

Why do you treat me as an unbeliever? I don't see any love from you and Jesus COMMANDS you to love me. That's in the Scriptures, too.

Nevertheless, if you love me less I will love you more.

Please God, bless my brother (or sister) in Christ today. Please bless this person's family, work and witness. Please abundantly supply all of his/her needs according to your riches in Glory.

Please, Father, bless my brother/sister in Christ and let your favor rest on him/her right now.

Bless her/him emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Let good health, great mercy and sweet joy from Your own heart envelop this Child of Yours and let your sweet presence be known and felt in greater measure.

Amen!

-kg

Keith Giles said...

Also: To respond directly to the quote about "I have scoured the scriptures..." let me explain:

My quote was that there is no exact wording where anyone in the Scriptures talk about God "using" us.

Is there scripture about How we surrender to God? Yes.

Is there scripture about how we are to be living sacrifices to God? Yes.

My point is that the exact phrase "God uses us" or "God used me", etc. doesn't appear in the Bible.

I think I explained what I meant and didn't mean already.

Bill Navarro said...

anon, you post Scriptures to wield YOUR opinion. But we can do that to make our argument. For example, I say Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

The point is that all of us needs context of the Bible as well as grace.

Simply put, your statements might show the desire to correct, but it is void of love, grace, and peace.

Anonymous said...

Keith,

You are right, words do matter. So in similar vain, the words "invitation" and "cooperation" give room to disobedience and questioning/doubting the Lord's moral judgment. And no, I'm not saying that you are an unbeliever but simply that by your very premise that words matter.

In the matters of hermeneutics and semantics, there are many words which are used to explain the scripture, which are not in the scripture. It may be the case that you've overlooked the words you chose to correct the misguided term.

And yes, it is all about the Love, which is the Father God. So indeed, if you do the will of God, you are my brother indeed, and how I love those who do the will of God!

If anything, it is my zeal for the Lord that temples of God should be rebuilt and the poles of Asherah and high places of idols in Christ's body should be torn down.

Peace and love through Christ Jesus in all circumstances. To God be the glory forever.