One time not long after I became a Christian I believe God connected me with a person who I was to have a “spiritual friendship” with. The connection was immediate and strong but I totally misunderstood it. I assumed it was to be a romantic relationship but it was not, it was to be a spiritual relationship.
I can see a distinct and contrasting pattern from the ministry of Judas vs. that of John the Baptist.
Judas (aka Jesus’ traitor) no doubt at one time had a degree of love and faith in Jesus and perhaps said at one point:
“hey I will serve him in this way, I will manage his ministry money, I’m good at that, I will do what he asks of me with the money and I will take some and give to the poor, in this way I will honor him with my ‘talents’.”
But you never read Jesus asking him to do this, perhaps it was just a permissive thing.
Similarly, a close look at the ministry of Peter before the cross, shows he had the same tendency as Judas at times, his natural extroverted gift of persuasiveness seemed to be a hindrance to his surrender to Jesus and it seems that Satan was able to use Peter’s ‘gifts’ to try to control Jesus. Jesus never said “hey I need a fire ball, a bold powerful personality to preach the gospel so I want Peter”, he never said “I need someone talented with money to manage my ministry money” so I want Judas.
Jesus taught total surrender, total repentance, total hatred for the former life to begin again.
“And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.””
– Mark 8:32-33 NASB
I think that if Peter were coming up today, with his gifting’s and extroverted zeal would be promoted to many of the top mega-churches or denominations before the age of 30.
Not once in the New Testament are we asked to bring our natural gifting’s into our service to Jesus Christ. Instead, Jesus himself distributes new, spiritual gifts upon salvation and his infilling us.
The gospel we read from the NT teaches that when we come to Jesus and become a Christian we surrender everything of ourselves, the good with the bad, we DIE, our good and talented parts and our miserable sinful parts of us. They are all the same filthy rags to Jesus.
For us Christians it is no longer us living, as far as God is concerned. Baptism in waters symbolizes our death…then rising up to our new life within Jesus.
Even our natural talents, the “gifted” parts of us, need to die. Especially if we have confidence or have been accustomed to rely on them. If God can kill everything of us, then he can live in us. More of Jesus and less of me, “He must increase I must decrease.”
John the Baptist had the ministry philosophy and the apostle Paul had the ministry philosophy of total surrender and death to self.
We are “crucified with Christ”, and “it is not longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.”
Jesus said “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
– John 12:24-26 NAS
“Hate his life in this world.” Why are so many of us teaching the opposite of this as we ‘evangelize’? When did salvation become ‘a raise your pinky finger in anonymity at the end of a sermon then join the worship band with that talented voice of yours?‘
Are you ministering (and being taught to minister) by the pattern of Judas? out of your own talents and greatness? or by the pattern of John and Paul, “more of Jesus and less of me” and “I die daily”?
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