Monday, February 1, 2016

What We Can Learn About the Christian Life from Compost

Part 3:
 The Ingredients Must Be Transformed by Something Beyond Themselves

Compost is more than the sum of its parts, but that doesn’t happen just because the inputs are put together. More is needed; water, various microbes, and other organisms transform the ingredients into something beyond themselves. Even the best inputs are insufficient in of themselves.

The same thing is true of us Christians. We cannot effectively deliver the goodness God desires us to deliver without His adding something to our lives, regardless of our native abilities. Solomon—a man with immense natural talents and great positional advantages—recognized that he was inadequate to deliver all the graces God wanted delivered without God’s help. He perceived that would not possess sufficient wisdom unless God gave it to him. See  1 Kings 3:4-14; Wisdom 8:19-9-18. Jesus told Peter, a man who for all his foibles was a natural leader, that he could not lead His church unless he accepted God’s help. John 3:18. Jesus summarized that well in John 15:4:"Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me."

         The same is true on a collective level. We see that in Acts 1:4-7, 13-14  and  2:1-17, 40-47. Consider the setting. Here were a group of folks who were uniquely positioned to do the work God called them to; they had been in intimate relationship with Jesus for three years, they had been personally taught by Him, and they had witnessed, and even taken part in, great miracles. If anyone was ever prepared to serve God it was these folks. But what did Jesus tell them? That they needed the Holy Spirit. And once they received the Spirit, powerful things began to happen, things far more beneficial than anything they could have done on their own.

Ok, so what do we do with this, how should it impact the way we try to serve God? Three things come to mind.

The first is humility. Solomon had it, Peter needed some, and we probably do too (I know I do). We have to accept the fact that we cannot deliver all the good that God wants us to deliver in our own strength. We therefore have to be humble enough to accept that and accept His help. Check out Proverbs 15:33,  Proverbs 18:12, Proverbs 29:23, and Romans 12:3.    

The second is prayer. What did the apostles do when Jesus told them they’d need the Holy Spirit?  They   "all joined constantly in prayer."   What did Solomon do when he realized that he was incapable of delivering all the good that God wanted him to deliver? He “prayed to the Lord and entreated him…with all [his] heart.” Wisdom 8:21 (New Jerusalem Bible)(other translations here).

The third is community. The apostles didn't retreat to their individual prayer closets, they "joined ... in prayer." God frequently supplies what we lack through fellow believers, and He has expressly told us that joint prayer is very powerful. Matthew 18:19. We therefore ought to seek each others' help and join each other in seeking God's help. 

So, to return to my original point of departure, we have to let God add what we lack if we are to be transformed from basic "greens and browns" into the rich compost God wants to make with us.

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