This is a good point to consider something intrinsic to Hebraic thinking, in that it concentrates on what we have been put on this earth for, rather than navel-gazing and inward thinking. It is something that turns Greek thinking right on its head. It is the concept of form and function. It arises from a view of things from the perspective of God, rather than the Greek concept of man being at the centre of everything. For God everything in Creation has a purpose.
The Lord works out everything to its proper end — even the wicked for a day of disaster. (Proverbs 16:4)
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
Those first believers were characterised by the role they had to play, their purposes in the great scheme of things. They all had gifts, in accordance with God’s plan for each individual life.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8)
Of course, this Scripture was directed at them, but it also applies to us now. But do we really take it on board?
Everything in Creation (including you and me) should be identified by its purpose, or function, as well as its physical appearance, its form. In our culture, it is form that rules, we observe objects, we use them, we collect them, we are them. We’re comfortable with nouns. In God’s Kingdom, verbs are more important. Even the Hebrew language, the language of most of the Bible, is a verb-orientated language, a language of action, of doing things.
This really is thinking differently. When we meet a Christian friend we should be wondering what good works God has prepared in advance for them to do. What are their gifts according to the grace given to them? What is their function in God’s Kingdom? When we meet an unbeliever, we should wonder what role God may have for us to introduce them into God’s kingdom. It’s not so much who we are, but rather what we do, that is important to God.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)
God is not keen on our dry rituals or disengaged worship, but would rather see our faith in action. Here’s another expression of that idea:
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)
God is not interested so much in our knowledge of Scripture as our openness to Scripture changing our lives. He prefers our engagement with Him over our knowledge of Him. He may laugh (I think) at some of us who proudly claim the office of pastor, prophet, apostle etc. but don’t function in those gifts. He may laugh even more (and cry) at our attempts at creating strategies for fundraising that have been borrowed from the world, when all we have to do is pray for these funds. Perhaps He cries at the mechanistic or even ritualistic way we may do our evangelism, with the accent on reciting creeds, set prayers and spiritual laws, rather than a sincere desire for a relationship with Jesus. Similarly with the use of rosaries, relics, amulets, icons and crosses, when all He desires is a simple direct faith in Him. Sermons, scriptural songs or even books are ineffectual unless we can discern God speaking to us through these activities.
We put the accent on healing services, evangelistic rallies, worship concerts and huge prayer vigils, while all God wants to do is meet us individually and for us to experience Him. Of course He will meet us at these places, even where manipulation and emotionalism are employed, because He will honour our search. But we can save a lot of time and money by just finding a quiet (or even noisy) place simply to meet with Him.
It is form and function. You yourself are the form, but you in relationship with God is your function, which is to be greatly preferred. You may be Fred Smith, but God is more interested in Fred-the-encourager-of-those-who-are-struggling. We all need to find out what that function is and we will now go deeper …
This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp
What is our function in God’s Kingdom?