Virtually no one seeks the Lord of all knowledge for truly innovative ways of portraying the nature and message of God. I am not talking about gimmicks, but of being channels of God's splendor, free, like the prophets of old, from the straight-jacket of human tradition; willing to carry obedience to the extreme of appearing the greatest oddball since John penned Revelation. (John, by the way, was locked up before he wrote his bizarre book. In our era, he'd be put away after he wrote it. It was non-Christians who had him put away. Today it would be - no, I won't say it).
Part of us recoils from a God so superior that his acts take us by surprise. It's unsettling to have a God so vibrant, so bursting with life and creativity and personality, that in comparison the most dynamic of us seem listless and boring. We'd much prefer God to be a machine; as coldly predictable as a lump of metal trapped by a simple law of physics. There's something reassuring about an idol. Within us lurks a desire to fashion a god in the image of a cuddly teddy bear that says 'I love you' when we press the right button and never disturbs us by doing or asking the unexpected.
From cover to cover, the Bible demonstrates that God's character is wonderfully predictable and his methods wondrously unpredictable. When Jesus healed, for instance, you could never be sure whether he would visit, heal from a distance, or initially ignore the person. You would never know whether he would address demons or the illness, speak of sin or faith, bless, ask questions, spit, lay hands, or tell the person to wash or stretch or pick up a bed or see a priest. Lest we try limiting God to the vast array of Jesus' earthly methods, the rest of Scripture shows the Most High healing by the use of shadows, handkerchiefs, oil, fig paste, a dead prophet's bones, an image of a snake, lying on the afflicted, dipping in the Jordan - and if you want a full list, you have still missed the point. For every impossibility, the Almighty has unlimited possibilities.
So let's not think that service must conform to our petty notions before it can sparkle with divine greatness. Let's cut the ropes and let God express his boundless creativity through us. We are so tradition-bound as to confuse ministry with mimicry. Unless we are called to a musty, second-hand vocation, we conclude we're not called at all. Don't be a buzzard circling the corpse of a worn-out ministry when you could be an eagle soaring with the Spirit to fresh expressions of the grandeur of God.
Every human mind is chained to established practice and custom. All that distinguishes any of us is the length of our leash. The implications haunt me.
Like the Pharisees of old, we can be horrified at the actions of our spiritual forebears - adamant that we could not possibly be so blinded by religious prejudice as to oppose a work of God - and yet make grave misjudgments of the same magnitude that God-fearing people have been making for millennia.
I make no plea for blind tolerance. That's one of the fad heresies of our age, and even the bigoted Pharisees wrongly tolerated temple money-changers. But whether they erred on the side of acceptance or rejection, the Pharisees' error was always the same: they let the accepted norms of their group ring so loud in their ears that they couldn't hear the heartbeat of God. Like us, they were sure they would never make such a mistake. So though I don't preach mindless acceptance, I urge caution - especially since God's primary concern is to enlighten me concerning his leading for my life, not his personal leading for everyone else.
God is most elevated, not by a hundred imitations of Billy Graham, but by a hundred commonfolk, each being true to their unique calling. The result will much more accurately reflect the multi-faceted character of God. Our great God is a humorist as well as a judge; a musician as well as an orator; a servant and a king. Just look at creation: God is an artist, an engineer, an inventor, a gardener. He's a bio-chemist, a mid-wife, a philosopher, a laborer, an architect - does the list ever end?
In the vastness of God's nature there must be a tiny element that you can portray better than anyone else ever has - if you accept the challenge of a truly Spirit-led ministry, instead of a pale imitation of someone else. Just as the life-styles of Jesus and John the Baptist differed enormously, there should be a rich diversity within the body of Christ. Unfortunately, a warped view of holiness and/or submission often leads to drab conformity. In reality, this is carnality - the inability to love or appreciate anyone different from ourselves.
To reach the many different people groups he encountered, Paul became 'all things to all men'. If Paul, as an individual, could contemplate this, imagine the breadth that should be evident within the body as a whole. This is possible only if we allow the Spirit to nurture our individuality.Don't despise the unique blend of abilities bestowed on you by the keenest Mind in the universe. Stop envying the ministry of others and start clarifying your own call. If, to your thinking, that call seems insignificant, the thing to be ashamed of is not your calling but your thinking! ...the thoughts of Grantley Morris.