July 2, 2012

"Working for God"?

I love this song... :)

From John Piper's "Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist":

God's insistence that we ask Him to give us help so that He gets glory (Psalm 50:15) forces on us the startling fact that we must beware of serving God, and must take special care to let Him serve us, lest we rob Him of His glory...

Our job is to "wait for Him"...

God is not looking for people to work for Him, so much as He is looking for people who will let Him work for them. The gospel is not a Help Wanted ad. Neither is the call to Christian service. On the contrary, the gospel commands us to give up and hang out a Help Wanted sign (this is basic meaning of prayer). Then the gospel promises that God will work for us if we do. He will not surrender the glory of being the Giver...

Religious "flesh" always wants to work for God (rather than humbling itself to realize God must work for it in free grace). But "if you live according to the flesh you will die" (Romans 8:13). That is why our very lives hang on not working for God.

Then shall we not serve Christ? It is commanded: "Serve the Lord!" (Romans 12:11). Those who do not serve Christ are rebuked (Romans 16:18). Yes, we must serve Him. But we will beware of serving in a way that implies a deficiency on His part or exalts our indispensability.

How then shall we serve? Psalm 123:2 points the way. "Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till He have mercy upon us." The way to serve God so that He gets the glory is to look to Him for mercy. Prayer prevents service from being an expression of pride.

Any servant who tries to get off the divine dole and strike up a manly partnership with His Heavenly Master  is in revolt against the Creator. God does not barter. He gives the mercy of life to servants who will have it, and the wages of death to those who won't. Good service is always and fundamentally receiving mercy, not rendering assistance...

And so we will serve God by believing His promise of fullest joy and walking by that faith. We will not serve by trying to put our power at His disposal for His good, but by doing what is necessary so that His power will be ever at our disposal for our good. And of course, God has appointed that His power be at our disposal through prayer. "Ask and you will receive!" So we serve by the power that comes through prayer, when we serve for the glory of God.

Without doubt this sort of serving also means obedience. A patient who trusts his doctor's prescriptions obeys them. A convalescent sinner trusts the painful directions of his therapist, and follows. Only in this way do we keep ourselves in a position to benefit from what the divine Physician has to offer. In all this obedience it is we who are the beneficiaries. God is ever the Giver. For it is the Giver who gets the glory.

1 Peter 4:11 states the principle so well: "Let him who serves serve in the strength which God supplies in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and power forever and ever. Amen." The Giver gets the glory. So all serving that honors God must be a receiving. Which means that all service must be performed by prayer.

To be sure, let us work hard; but never let us forget that it is not we, but the grace of God which is with us (1 Corinthians 15:10). Let us obey now, as always, but never forget that it is God who works in us, both to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Let us spread the gospel far and wide, and spend ourselves for the sake of God's elect, but never venture to speak of anything except what Christ has wrought through us (Romans 15:18). Let us ever be praying for His power and wisdom, so that all our serving is the overflow of righteousness, joy and peace from the Holy Spirit. "For he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men" (Romans 14:17-18).

So the astonishing good news implied in the duty of prayer is that God will never give up the glory of being our Servant. "No eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him" (Isaiah 64:4).

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