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There’s a pervasive misconception about the servant-Master relationship that we have with God. I’m not sure how or why it exists, exactly, but I do know that it has taken me many years to come to a better understanding of it. And, as with most all things, I’m sure many years hence, I will again attest to the face that I have come into an even deeper understanding of the concept!
For some reason, I feel like we’ve taken the Shepherd/sheep thing a bit too far so that the imagery really is marred. Yes, the Lord is our Great Shepherd, leading us and caring for us. It is a beautiful allegory, and many of us have been deeply comforted by the words of the Psalmist, David, in his 23rd Psalm. However, I feel like some of us have superimposed the idea that because we are sheep, we can do nothing on our own.
Don’t misunderstand me; it’s true that God is the very Source of our lives, and we depend upon Him. Yet, it’s not true that we are unable to: make wise decisions, act upon creative ideas, knowledgeably reach out and tend to the needs of others, operate in faith, have goals, dreams, and visions, or make bold requests in prayer! It’s hard to put into words exactly, but it seems like we too often have a puppet mentality: that we can do absolutely nothing on our own until God thunders down the precise next move we are to make or syllable we are to utter.
Why Aren’t We More Active in Our Partnership with God?
Is it that we’re stuck in some sort of Old Testament mental realm where God only uses and speaks directly to “the prophet?” That somehow it’s only the priest who is able to discern God’s will? If that’s so, why was the veil torn in the temple when Jesus died on the cross? Does not Hebrews 4:16 tell us to boldly draw near to the throne of grace??
I just have to mention that perhaps it’s just our own laziness, apathy or desire for ease. Ouch. I can only say things like this because I know that it’s been true for me! Frankly, it’s just easier to say, “well God hasn’t shown me what to do, yet,” then it is to actually prayerfully make a wise next move in faith! Why would God place His Holy Spirit inside of us if we’re only to be robots? Here we sit, powered-down and frozen until we receive the next direct input of data…
Friends, I don’t believe that’s what God intended, at all. We are creatively created in the very image of the Creator! We are supposed to use our imaginations, do, and create. We are supposed to have bold and godly dreams and to pursue them! We are to be fellow workers with Him…collaborators with Christ.
What Does the Bible Say?
I guess this seed thought got in my craw recently when reflecting on the verse in Matthew 18 where Jesus teaches that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever we loose will be loosed in heaven (verse 18). Another translation uses the wording of forbidding and permitting. Either way, to me it’s pretty clear that the Lord is saying it’s up to us to determine what to bind and loose.
What about all the way back in Genesis 2 where God asks Adam to name all of the animals? A dear friend of mind brought this to my attention at a retreat a few years ago. God went through the whole business of creation, but then he brought the animals to Adam and told him to name them. Did the Lord ever say, “whoa, Adam, wait a second. I don’t like the name you chose for that animal…I’m going to change it…” No, He absolutely did not. I love what it says in Genesis 2:19: He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. I adore the thought that God was standing to the side of Adam, greatly anticipating what unique name that Adam might come up with for each of these brand new creatures!
Another example that comes to mind is Abraham when he interceded for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18. God lets Abraham know that He is about to destroy these cities for their abundant sins, but Abraham begins pleading with the Lord. He begins by asking the Lord to spare the city if there are at least fifty righteous people, and the Lord agrees to this. Abraham then goes through a series of descending numbers of righteous people continuing to ask the Lord the same question: would He spare the city for even the smaller number of righteous? Each time, the Lord says that He would. I’m amazed by this exchange but also encouraged! We are not robots or puppets! God has given us the ability to think and reason and to seek for godly wisdom. Using these God-ordained tools, we are able to collaborate with God as He oversees the comings and goings of the Earth.
I found another great example in an article on harvestprayer.com. The author says:
One of the areas that I believe is least understood by Christians is the partnership that God has called us to with Himself in the area of prayer. God, in His wisdom and sovereign power, has chosen to accomplish His will on this planet through the prayers of His people. God has decided not to arbitrarily move in and out of situations on earth, even though He is able to do just that. Instead, He waits on His people to pray and then pours out His power in response to those prayers.
Ezekiel 22:30 is a passage of Scripture that illustrates this principle of how the Lord works. “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” God uses the illustration of a walled city to demonstrate His commitment to prayer. The walls protect a city from enemy attack. But through neglect (sin), the walls can begin to crumble and a gap or opening in the wall can create a dangerous situation where the enemy can come in. God said of Israel in Ezekiel’s day, that they had allowed such a situation to develop. It was going to result in the destruction of the land, unless someone stood before the Lord in the gap on behalf of the land. This is a clear picture of God’s desire for us to engage in intercessory prayer.1
I love how the author of this article clearly states that while God is capable of intervening at any moment in any area, He has chosen to accomplish His will on the earth through men and women of God. He has called us to a divine partnership!
How Will You Respond?
There are many more examples to be found in the word of God that illustrate the fact that God has called us to work with Him in accomplishing His will on this earth. While it feels more comfortable to sit on our hands, as it were, waiting for lightening to strike us with the will of God, it’s clear that the bible teaches us to prayerfully step out and activate our faith. After all, faith without works is dead! We should feel a greater sense of responsibility in prayer and acting on our faith then we do. We can’t continue to assume that the will of God will be accomplished whether we get involved or don’t. As for me, I am going to do my best to be more active and responsible in making sure the will of God is done in my life and the lives of those with whom I have influence. How about you, friend? Will you respond to God’s call to partnership?