21/10/16I was once listening to a radio preacher who said, ‘The reason God has left you alive on earth is so that you can do something to make the world a better place to live in. If you are not engaged in some kind of ministry to someone else, you are just occupying space. You are worthless to God, to yourself and to other people, and it would be better if you just went on home to heaven’. At that time (several years ago), I whole heartedly agreed with the preacher. Not anymore!
Yes, Scripture teaches that we are to minister to one another as believers and to the world as well. However, it is not true that ministry to people is the only reason God has left us alive on earth today or what gives us worth to God. The truth is that the most powerful and essential ministry we are called to engage in is not to people, but to God Himself!
God wants you
God is a God of relationship. His nature is love (1 John 4:7), which is relationship. Papa God is out for a close, personal, intimate relationship with each of us.
When the Father set out to redeem us, He wasn’t thinking of merely ending up with a bunch of workers for Him, but rather with a family with whom He would relate and fellowship. 1 Corinthians 1:9 tells us that God, who is ‘faithful, has called us into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord’. And in 2 Corinthians 12:14, Scripture states, ‘… I seek not yours but you …’ The Father is not just after what you can do for Him or give Him, but He seeks for you, the person! YOU are the reason Jesus came into the world and died! You are the reason He rose from dead, ascended back to heaven and is coming back soon. God had multitudes of workers (angels) doing all kinds of things for Him, but He still came into the world seeking to save you! It wasn’t because He was short of workers. He gets blessed by what we do for Him alright, but that is only if it is coming out of relationship and fellowship with Him.
The folly of the Martha
In Luke 10:38-42, we read about Martha and her sister Mary. Martha was a typical ‘worker’ type. Her belief was that doing things for Jesus was more vital than fellowshipping with Him. So whenever Jesus visited their house, Martha would get busy ‘serving’. On this particular occasion, the Master stopped by Martha’s home, and she, as usual, got to ‘serving’, while her sister, Mary chose instead to sit at Jesus’ feet and fellowship with Him. Martha chose work for God over fellowship while Mary chose fellowship with God over work. However, as it almost always happens, Martha soon grew weary and became grumpy. She got stressed and started complaining, condemning and finding fault with Mary, and even with Jesus Himself. Today, we would say she experienced burnout!
Martha went over to Jesus and basically accused Him of encouraging Mary to keep talking with Him when there were ‘better’ things Mary could be doing to serve the Lord. ‘Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me’. (Luke 10:40).
Martha’s attitude was that Jesus was encouraging Mary to be idle and lazy when there was so much she could be doing for God. She thought that fellowshipping with Jesus was not ministry. It was wasting time! She of course got it totally wrong. She had not understood the heart-beat of Jesus at all.
The Master’s reply to Martha’s complaint was, ‘Martha, Martha, you are troubled about too many things, while Mary has chosen the one thing which is most needful and vital, and which will bring her the kind of peace, joy and satisfaction that your much serving can never bring’ (Luke 10:42 –My paraphrase). Another way of putting this is that Jesus was blessed by Mary’s fellowship with Him, over and above Martha’s efforts to serve Him physical food.
Mary’s sitting at the feet of Jesus ministered to Him! Mary had somehow learnt that to Jesus, developing our relationship with Him supersedes everything else! Jesus is far more blessed when we sit with Him and let Him serve us than when we struggle to serve Him! Mary let Jesus serve her with eternal food and it blessed the Lord, because that was why He came into the world: to give life to us!
The most powerful thing we can give to Jesus is ourselves! Martha chose to give Jesus food but Mary gave Him herself, her time. Martha’s service, though important, was temporal and earthly, and that was why there was no peace or joy in it. It was motivated by human wisdom. Jesus had far more to give to her than she would ever have to give to Jesus, but Martha hadn’t got that yet!
No matter what else we do for or give to the Lord, if we cannot find time that we give to just be with Him, to fellowship with Him, to enjoy Him, to develop our relationship with Him, to let Him love us so we can love Him back, to meditate deeply in His Word so we can discover the wonders and beauties of His Person, then we aren’t blessing Him very much!
Hired servants or children?
A key lie the devil has managed to pass on to many in the Church is that Jesus came to make us primarily workers for His Kingdom. It is this wrong attitude that fuels beliefs such as: God ‘hires and fires’ people based on their performance; that God will ‘put you on the shelf’ for a time, during which He won't talk to you, won't answer your prayer, won’t use you, etc, all because you may have upset Him by not fulfilling some assignment, or committing some sin, etc. I believed these lies at one point and almost lost it. For 6 years, I believed God was mad at me because of a mistake I had made and that He wouldn’t talk to me, bless me, or use me, as punishment. Oh, but I was so glad when I discovered that my Father was far more interested in me myself, in the relationship I have with Him, over and above how I perform in my service to Him.
Jesus didn’t die for my ministry; He died for me! He didn’t die to have my service; He died to have me! For all those 6 years I felt condemned and useless to God, it wasn’t God punishing me; it was just my un-renewed mind beating me down with guilt because of the wrong teachings I had received. If God were out to primarily condemn and reject people because of their imperfect performance, nobody would ever have relationship with Him.
I am so blessed to know that My Father in heaven never gets disappointed in or at me; that He will never fire me, because He has never hired me! My relationship with Him is not based on my performance but on what Jesus did for me when He died on the cross. I am His child, not His employee. I am not a hired servant in His house! He is my Dad, and what pleases Him the most about me is not what I do for Him but the fact that I am His kid, with His life flowing in my spirit.
In the human family setting, relationship should be more important than work. (It always isn’t, regrettably). A family that tries to stay together based only on what they do for one another, and not on how they relate, won't last very long. People don't marry so they can work for each other, but rather because they want relationship; because they love each other; they want to spend their lives together; they want to BE together. Now out of that relationship and fellowship, service and other things motivated by love automatically follow, but doing things should never become the priority. If all you want is a worker in your house, you don't have to marry or beget children. You can just pay somebody to do to those things for you.
Child of God, the Lord has saved you for relationship with Him as priority. Yes, He has an assignment of service for you, and it is important that you fulfil it. But these things are designed to flow out of your relationship with Him. In fact, if ministering to God is not your priority, it is very possible that you might never get to fulfil your assignment. Any truly God-given vision takes divine enablement to fulfil, and that enablement is activated by the quality and quantity of our fellowship with God.
Leaders ministering to God
Because Papa God is a God of relationship, when we fellowship with Him, it ministers to Him. It blesses Dad when we give time to just be with Him, and learn about and from Him, and tell Him we love Him, and allow Him to love us. This is what a local church’s leaders got together to do in Acts 13:1-2: ‘Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them’. These leaders got together to fast and just minister to the Lord. Note that they weren’t interceding or doing spiritual warfare. They weren’t trying to get God to give them something or do anything, like it happens in most prayer meetings. There was no crisis in the church. They were just hanging out with the Lord and with one another, as part of their routine. And in that atmosphere, God started ministering back to them, because Papa God will never let us out-give Him.
Enjoying the Lord
Ministering to God is spending time with Him, worshipping Him, enjoying Him, meditating on His goodness, sitting in His presence knowing that He is pleased with us and we are pleased with Him, hanging out with Him! This is the most important ministry we can ever engage in.
We are not ministering to God if all the time we spend with Him is taken up with asking Him to do this or that; or ‘bombarding the gates of heaven’; or ‘tearing asunder the sky of brass’; or lecturing Him on how rotten and undeserving we are, etc. And our time with God doesn’t always have to be spectacular, emotional, etc, either. No relationship is always on highs. Sometimes things are intense; other times they are ‘flat’ but the issue is being together! That is how we build and maintain any healthy relationships!
Ministering to the Lord is what David described in Psalm 27:4 as ‘beholding His beauty and enquiring in His temple’. It is BEING with Him; spending time in His presence! It is waiting upon Him in silence and in meditation. It is loving Him. Anyone who loves desires to be loved back, and God whose love for us is so intense is blessed when we love Him back.
God loves you fanatically! When you respond to that love and you love Him back, it ministers to Him! Yes, He is complete in Himself, and what we do doesn’t really add anything to who He is, but Scripture is clear that the God, who gave all so He could have relationship with us, is blessed when we show Him that the relationship we have with Him is our priority.
Brothers and sisters, until we place priority on ministering to the Lord above ministering to people, we are missing out on God’s best. Our worth to God is not measured by how much we work for Him but by the price Jesus paid to enable us have an intimate relationship with Him and the Father. Even if your circumstance is such that you are not able to minister to people, you are still of immense worth and value to God, and you can be a great blessing to God by loving Him and letting Him love you; spending time with Him; fellowshipping with Him, ministering to Him. Your worth and value is in Christ, not in what you do for Him!
Many years ago, the Holy Spirit spoke in my heart and said, ‘The Master sent Me to fellowship with you and to share in your life but even though I am in you, I am lonely. You hardly ever give Me time’. I was so busy ministering to people that I left out ministering to the most important Person in my life: the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus, Papa God.
Give the Lord some ministry, will you? Make it a priority because He has made you His priority! He misses you, you see! He desires you more than anything else!