“The Christian Life Isn’t about Numbers.”

René Malgo

Imagine the following scenario: you are a disciple of the Lord Jesus. You’ve already walked with Him for three years. You have such a deep relationship with Him that He brings you and two other disciples into His innermost circle of trust. When He wants to reveal His heavenly glory, He brings only you and the two others with Him to the mountain. He prepares you to be a witness for Him to the world. He gives you the authority to drive out demons, to heal the sick, to do miracles. And He gives you a theological training of which the cleverest heads of Christendom, two thousand years later, can only dream. Then, after His resurrection, your Lord will give you a 40-day “intensive seminar” on the kingdom of God. You can directly ask the Lord Jesus all the questions that you have. He personally selected and equipped you to be a messenger of the kingdom of heaven on this earth. 

And then, Jesus Christ goes up into heaven. He sends you, as promised, the Holy Spirit, and you gain the ability to proclaim the great deeds of God in foreign languages and to speak the words the Holy Spirit gives you. And then . . .?

Then, after the shortest possible time of extraordinary success, everything descends into chaos. You experience resistance, persecution, and are even arrested. Your ministry for the Lord is abruptly ended. You are in prison, and perhaps wonder what the point of all this personal preparation from the Lord was. Perhaps, you think, the Lord is intervening supernaturally, so that you can serve Him in an even better way than before. But nothing like this happens. You are led from your cell to the executioner. He takes his sword and kills you. No angel appears. No last-minute liberation. You, who were personally prepared by Jesus Christ for the world mission, are executed.

This is precisely what James, the brother of John, experienced. It seems humanly illogical, a true waste of potential, if our Lord allows one of his twelve personally chosen apostles, especially one from the innermost circle, to be killed so soon after the ascension. But the ways of our Lord are not our ways. He measures success by different standards than we humans.

Celebrities have many fans. Charlatans get many donations. Winning personalities receive lots of gushing praise. Cunning people enjoy many visible successes. On the other hand, the Christian life is not about numbers but, in contrast, about faithfulness to the Lord. God’s blessing, therefore, is not necessarily determined by the amount of fans, the amount of donations, the amount of praise, or the amount of visible successes.

God’s blessing is founded on the fact that we are very close to the Lord, that we can see and taste His goodness and faithfulness, sit at His laid table, walk hand in hand with Him. Thus, our activity is (or will be!) an activity rich in blessings, by helping others get closer to the Lord. This is something that cannot be measured externally. It is so important that we walk in the good works that our Lord has already prepared (Eph 2:10), because we do not know what is and is not a success from a divine perspective.

But, how can we know whether we are walking in the works that the Lord has prepared? It is simple: stay close to Christ—in faith, in thought, in speech, in action, in prayer. The more we want to please Him—the more we want Him Himself—the more He will work through us. And then we can also gain the knowledge that God calculates differently, judges differently, and sees differently than we do.

Suppose that God would allow you to serve Him only for a short time, and then take you to heaven or cut short your ministry in another way. If you can testify like Paul that Christ was your life, then more blessings flowed from you than any great preacher who held fiery speeches for forty years, but in reality only sold himself.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mt 16:26). Be encouraged to settle everything with the Lord Jesus and to cling to Him like a burr, for one day near Him is better than a thousand elsewhere (Ps 84:10). He is the vine, we are the branches (Jn 15:5). Maranatha—Amen; come, Lord Jesus!

Midnight Call - 08/2017

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