2 Kings 4:30 But the child’s mother said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So he got up and followed her.
This story illustrates something that is very common, but which has bothered me somewhat. The woman early on recognized that Elisha was a man of God (verse 9) but over time, as she saw God work through him, she conflated him with God. That is to say, her faith was in Elisha as much as it was in God. That seems to me very risky. Human vessels are imperfect, however much God might use them. Paul put it this way: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) When you forget that your leader is just a clay pot, you are asking for trouble. What’s even more dangerous is when the leader himself forgets that he’s just a clay pot. When that happens, people are bound to be badly hurt. Examples such as Billy Graham are unfortunately rare. He is one servant of God who has never betrayed his commission. It would be easy to list several others who have not been so faithful. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. One of the central pillars in that was the priesthood of the believer. That is, every believer has direct access to God through Jesus Christ, so we are not dependent on going through any merely human intermediary, for salvation or for anything else. When we fixate on a human vessel we are forgetting that vital principle, and lose a great deal in the process.
This has bothered me especially because of how some people have fixated on me. I don’t think that trumpeting my failures would be helpful, for a variety of reasons, but I must seek to point people to God at all times, assuring them that He loves them as much as He does me. One danger in this is that it feeds the ego. If I start to believe what some people say to/about me, I’m in real trouble! The flip side of that is when people don’t believe I’ve heard from God and close their ears to what He says to them through me. That isn’t as dangerous for me, but it can bring loss in various ways, to the individual and to the church. Today we are having a called business meeting to talk about the purchase of the land next door and building an elder-care facility on it. I obviously haven’t been fully effective in communicating what God has shown us over the years, but today is an opportunity to set some of that straight. This is indeed a vision God has grown over 19 years, but it has seemed like a pipe dream until the past year, and the pace has really picked up over the past few months. That makes it seem very sudden to some people. The biggest shock to most of them is the large sums of money involved. They haven’t lived through previous “impossible” projects the way I have, so I am to be gentle but firm in expressing God’s faithfulness. If they are fixated on me, of course they will run in terror from all the bad possibilities. If they are fixed on God, then they will rejoice that He is choosing to use us for His glory. I am to speak and act in all humility, but also in conviction and assurance of what God has been showing us, so that together we may treat His name as holy and welcome His kingdom as His will is done in and through us for His glory.
Father, thank You for this Word. I do pray for each member of this church, that they will receive faith as a gift from You and rejoice to be part of what You are doing, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!