Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
- Ephesians 3.20
And I was not a worthy or fit person for what the Lord granted me, his minor servant: that after such calamities and such great burdens, after captivity, after many years, he should bestow on me, in relation to that people, so much that I had never hoped for or thought of in my youth.
- Patrick, Confession, Irish, 5th century
I was once asked by a student whether I thought today’s church leaders are working up to the level of their ability. “Is the best they can do?” was the question.
This came in the midst of a discussion in which it was clear the students were disappointed with the Kingdom progress they saw in themselves and their churches.
I answered that I thought most church leaders had good intentions and more than adequate skills. But they seem to be working up to the level of their vision, not their ability.
And that’s a problem for most of us. Our vision of the Christian life is just too small. We don’t have the same vision of what God can do in and through us as, well, God does.
He says, “far more abundantly beyond.” We say, “I’ve never thought about that before.”
He says, “power at work within” you. We say, “Oh I could never do that.”
He says “glory in the church and in Christ Jesus.” We say, “Good idea, but get someone else, Lord.”
He says, “all generations.” We say, “I can only think about my own needs.”
We are trapped in our experience of the faith. We’ve never thought “far more abundantly” about our lives, we don’t long for “far more abundantly” through our faith, and so our vision of the Christian life and what we might contribute to the progress of the Kingdom, is defined by our experience to date and the experience of other Christians we know.
Patrick would be puzzled by this. After all, if he, a high school drop-out and runaway slave, could gain, nurture, and pursue a vision for the salvation of Ireland, what’s holding us back?
The witness of Scripture is clear enough, but few of us have the kind of vision Patrick did, and few of us ever achieve anything like his success for the Kingdom, not even in our own Personal Mission Fields.
We aren’t working up to the level of our ability, for we have unlimited ability, far-more-abundantly ability, power-of-God-at-work-within-us ability, to see the Kingdom of God come in and through us in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit, like rivers of living water (Jn. 7.39).
But we’re living and working up the level of our vision, defined by our experience, and which, alas, is all too often not in sync with God’s vision because it is not based on God’s promises or power.
To what level of Kingdom service will you rise today?
Your vision, or God’s?
Psalm 2.9-12 (Agincourt: “O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High”)
To Christ the Lord be given all who humbly embrace Him and on Him call.
Be wise, be warned: His judgment comes to break the prideful, sinful ones.
Rejoice with fear in Jesus’ grace, and worship before His exalted face!
Beware His anger and judgment grim: How blessed are all who rest in Him!
What is it with me, Lord? Make me willing to seek and follow Your vision for my life, and not mine.
A Far-More-Abundantly Challenge for September
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T. M. Moore, Principal