A verse struck me yesterday I was writing my blog about Deacon Ministry.a verse really stood out for me was:
“It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables”.
I don’t think (as I blogged yesterday) in anyway a case of we are too grand and important too do such menial work, but instead what they saw was a dangerous distraction. A while back I had to write to some up and coming leaders whilst on the arrow course, and my advice was to “keep the most important thing the most important thing” -and the most important thing is Jesus, that pearl of great price, of him being made known, his Kingdom coming.
The disciples are saying we are being side-tracked from our calling and our commission by God.
I wonder if many of us have callings from God, and end up waiting on tables.
My friend Mark Rich talks about “the Devil seeks to occupy our time with maximum weariness for minimum fruitfulness”.
I was struck at the ordination service commission that it was all about the transforming nature of the Kingdom and yet we spend most of our lives arguing over whether or not to charge the Brownie’s another £2.50 an hour, or whether or not to upgrade the photocopier”.
The problem everyone is doing it, and we get so consumed with this ridiculous pettiness that our vision gets distorted, and we begin to see this as normal and “just how it is”.
It is very easy to get sept along with the mini crisis that keep us from doing that which we should.
Jesus talks about keeping the Kingdom of God our priority “seek first the Kingdom of God and ALL these things will be added unto you”, if we get our priorities right and seek the main thing first then everything falls into place.
Yet in doing this it doesn’t mean we neglect the other things, instead the apostles commissioned deacons, and so leadership developed, people were equipped and empowered, and the Kingdom of God was advanced.
The problem is people loose sight of the main, real and primary vision, our raison d’etre, raison d’etre, why (on earth) we are here.
I think the pettiness of our Church meetings is like procrastinating from the real task ahead, when I was a student the only time I had a tidy looking flat was when I was taking exams, procrastinating from doing what I was meant to do and needed to do. The same I think is true in our Churches, we bury our heads in the sand, we major on the minor in the exclusion of the major. It takes bravery to acknowledge the elephant in the room and do what we are supposed too. I remember a changing moment in my third year, when I left my flat and took my coffee into the library and didn’t come out again until it shut, a decisive moment ‘acknowledging the elephant’ adjusting my wrapped priorities/disobedience and returning to do what I should have been doing, the reason I was there in the first place.
Something of a metaphor for Church, to hear the voice of the risen Christ saying “Awake O sleeper and rise from the dead”, “Repent and return to your first love”.
I was on the phone this week to someone who is an amazingly Godly guy and he does a large event in an evening, and on the morning after he takes an hour and a half tidying up so that the people (a Church) don’t get stressy, so much so that they have to put back every chair in exactly the right place, as though the whole Church has collective OCD! (I think these Churches with their chairs are hilarious as they might have chairs but in their mindset they still have pews, I bet somewhere someone has decided to save all this time and effort lets just bolt the chairs to the floor!). Yet, this guy is one of the greatest evangelists and mentors I know, and just think of the hours that could be spent so much better for the Kingdom of God, real people being introduced to Jesus, Christians growing and flourishing in all that they could be.
when we stand before the throne of God and we “give an account for our lives” -although we are saved by grace- and we see the signs of the Kingdom that never were shared as we were arguing about what colour to paint the toilets, the mission that never happened and the people that didn’t get saved because of another cul-de-sac argument about the car park, the prodigals who never returned because we were too busy arguing about what songs the music-group sings and whether they have the mix of old and new right.
Paul uses the image of war and battle in his letter to Timothy, saying “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer” -yet too often we get embroiled in civilian affairs and Christ, our commander in chief gets ignored or relegated to point 9c on our AOB of our lengthy agenda items.
Let us not neglect the word of God to wait on tables.
Let us keep fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.