It is an astounding revelation when we realize that God partners with humans to get his purposes accomplished. He got Moses’ attention through a bush that just kept on burning. He relayed his message through prophets who often didn’t want to speak, or go, and who frequently suffered the consequences of sinful people’s reactions. He chose a young woman to give birth to his Son, Jesus. And the man Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit (same power source is available to his followers, by the way!) changed history and left us the perfect example to imitate. Today God is looking for you and me to join up and do some teamwork.
We each carry our jigsaw puzzle pieces, but in order for the intended picture to emerge, we need to put those pieces together!
In a power-hungry individualistic world such teamwork doesn’t come easily. The Enlightenment has moved our Western thinking away from God’s model. When Westerners took the continent of Africa they were unaware of the distinct ethnic groups that had made their homes there “forever.” Thinking he was justified in his claim, a pouting German Kaiser Wilhelm II is to blame for the fact that Kilimanjaro ended up in Tanzania (German East Africa until 1918) and not in Kenya! “Well, if you are going to take all that, then at least I want the highest mountain in Africa.” Teamwork here should at least have taken into consideration what the local Masai felt about it; they ended up on both sides of the border.
Speaking of Germans, it was not so long ago that families and kin groups in Germany were separated by a big wall. Likewise, the Senufos ended up in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Mali. The list goes on. Hence, there are ethnic and linguistic groups all over Africa finding themselves under the rule of different political states, explaining some of the reasons for a lot of recent atrocities.
God wants to partner with us to teach us the principle of fellowship. As our Creator desires to fellowship with us, so we are to fellowship with each other. Fellowship under the authority of God is the biblical model. Self-seeking individualism and earthly conquest is not.
Back-to-back in Matthew 25:35-40 Jesus talks about our use of talents, and what we do or don’t do to “one of the least of my brethren.” If I endeavor to be “all things to all people” all the time even for the right reason I’ll burn out. But if we all purpose to use what talents we have in seeking the best for others, we will find that teamwork according to the biblical model makes the jigsaw puzzle pieces fit.
You are still looking for your talents? Keep at it. Practice, and when you think you have identified something, try it out. The Lord works through who we are; our ministry flows out of our being. As this truth takes hold in our lives, we will start to better appreciate people who express themselves differently than we do, whether the difference be language, ethnicity, culture, age or gender. Whatever our talents constitute, that is our part to play and our task to carry out in partnership with the Giver.
Wouldn’t it be great to be an impressive Ezekiel? Wouldn’t it be beyond Hollywood stuff if we could feed 5,000 from one brown bag lunch? Wouldn’t we impress friend and foe alike if we could make impacts like, say, Martin Luther did? Who knows what God want to do through us? But, I am reminded of a friend who asked me “How do you eat a bus?” The answer, of course, is “one bite at a time.”
We have all been given talents; our job is to practice them: feed the hungry, be a friend to the friendless, pray for our enemies, sing to God’s glory. Not very spectacular, perhaps, yet very spectacular in the difference it makes. We provide the physical presence and willingness, God provides the power.
God is partnering with human beings to carry out his purposes. So is Satan. Who are you teaming up with?