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Replay: They don’t need me… but God sent me

Posted by on Oct 22, 2011 in discipleship | 2 comments

Replay: They don’t need me… but God sent me

Four years ago, I wrote a pair of posts called “They don’t need me…” and “… but God sent me.” These two posts were my own reflections on two passages of Scripture. But, they were also my reflections on a seeming contradiction/paradox. People need God, not me. But, God sends me. In the same way, God sends you, if you are one of his children. People need God; and God sends you.

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They don’t need me…

… and [praying] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20 ESV)

Paul recognized himself as one called to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles, and yet he needed others to pray that he would carry out his calling.

Paul knew that God had called him to speak in Rome, and yet he asked for prayer for boldness.

Paul proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ in cities all around the Roman empire, and yet he asked for prayer to do what he ought to do.

Paul had the knowledge, the training, the experience, and the testimony, and yet he asked for prayer.

I’m glad that Paul asked the church in Ephesus to pray for him. I’m glad the he asked them to pray that he would have boldness to speak the gospel. I’m glad the he recognized that his knowledge, training, experience, and testimony would not provide what was necessary to bring people into God’s kingdom.

I also have knowledge, training, experience, and testimony. But, I also need prayer, because I need God, and those I speak to need God. I can give them words and I can give them service, but I can’t give them what they need. They don’t need me, even if God chooses to use me. They need God.

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… but God sent me

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ESV)

In my previous post, I stated that they don’t need me, meaning that those outside the family of God need God himself, not me. In the passage above, I think Paul reveals the other side of this coin. While the world does not need me, God has sent me into the world as his ambassador, his representative.

As God sends me (and his other children) into the world, he sends us on a mission of reconciliation. This is interesting to me. God does not send us on a mission of condemnation, but reconciliation. Just as we have been reconciled to God, we have been give a service and a message of reconciliation to take to those who are not reconciled to God.

We implore… but God reconciles. We speak… but God transforms. We engage… but God brings into relationship with himself.

They don’t need me; they need God. I know God. They need the God that I know. I introduce them to God through a service and message of reconciliation. Through my service and message, God reconciles the world to himself.

They don’t need me; they need God. They don’t need me; but God sent me.


2 Comments

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  1. 12-20-2012

    Alan,
    As I read these remarks, I think about stewardship.
    The parable of ‘the unjust steward’ tells us of a steward who was displeasing to his master, until he became generous with the master’s money. Apparently, he had made the master look stingy and hard on those who owed him money, and the master did not like this reputation. At the end, when he became generous with the master’s money, then the master was pleased with him.
    Those who owed the master money, needed the master’s grace. Their connection to the master was through the steward. In the end, they received the master’s grace from the steward.
    I wonder if the steward is, in the beginning, a picture of the exacting demands of the Law. And at the end, a picture of Grace.
    Jesus, speaking to Bible experts, said, “You search the scripture looking for eternal life. What you can’t see is that they are telling of me. I am the Life.” So, I expect that Jesus is the focus of this story.
    He pleases His Father well, so I expect He was and continues to be generous with His Father’s wealth.
    To put it another way, God sent a mediator (a steward, if you please) to manage His affairs on Earth. In His farewell address, He said, “The works I do, you shall do.” So, now we are the “little mediators’.
    Speaking of things people need; Every year thousands, maybe millions of drill bits are sold to people who don’t ‘need’ them. What they need are holes. Drill bits are a means to an end.
    Like a drill bit, if I get overheated in my work, I lose my temper. To keep a drill bit sharp, apply oil at the point of contact, don’t use excessive pressure and rest it from time to time.
    Nelson

  2. 12-20-2012

    Nelson,

    That is definitely an interesting parable. I’ve heard it interpreted many different ways. Thank you for sharing an interpretation that goes along with what I wrote about here.

    -Alan