BLACK FOREST, Colo. (BP) -- I love Mexican food -- especially a good combo plate. You can’t beat the classic duo of a chicken enchilada and chile relleno.
I see this entrée as a parable on life.
We live in tension between two seemingly opposite poles. The word balance comes to mind.
In our personal lives, we try to maintain balance between work and rest, prayer and performance, human obedience and divine enablement, and faith and fortitude. And, ministerially, there is the push and pull, the force and flow of ministry; the sensible and the spiritual; and divinely-inspired imagination/dreaming and the human response of prudence/reasonableness.
God has modeled this combo plate of life and ministry as we answer this question: “What do the virgin birth of Jesus and His subsequent nature, the church, the Bible and the Christian have in common?” They are all “combo plates” of the earthy/human and the spiritual/divine.
But how do we can we tell the difference between the push of human personality and the pull of the divine? How can we differentiate between the force of the flesh and the flow of the Spirit? Should we be concerned about being so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good, or being so earthbound that we are of no heavenly use?
How do we balance faith and prudence? Can we “outfaith” God on the one hand and “under-achieve” on the other? We can indeed. For instance, do we pray over a casket believing the body will be resuscitated in front of a grieving family as a pastor friend of mine did? You can guess the result -- he lost his job. On the other hand, once we were increasing our next year’s church budget by 2 percent. A detractor asked, “Where is our percent of faith in this budget?” I said that it takes 100 percent of faith to even have a budget that is solely met by the faith-gifts of God’s people.
Which realm would you rather live in: “According to your faith be it done to you” (Matthew 9:29) or “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58)? Obviously, we must live in the faith dimension, for without it we cannot please God. But we better be confident that God is leading us toward a specifically desired outcome; otherwise we presume upon God. If I am going to err, it is going to be on the side of faith. I would rather be rebuked at the judgment for believing God for too much than too little.
God gave us a spiritual heart and a physical brain and He expects us to use both. David shepherded Israel “with the integrity of his heart [spiritual] and the skillfulness of his hands [physical]” (Psalm 78:72). The apostle Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ [spiritual] nevertheless I live [physical]” (Galatians 2:20). God uses both sanctified natural talent as well as supernaturally-gifted endowment. God did not say, “Not any wise, mighty or noble are called;” but, “Not many wise, mighty or noble are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26).
There are too many verses that speak of believing God for great and mighty things because nothing is too hard for Him. But these verses are counterbalanced with, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
Vision for ministry begins with our praying for and believing in God’s preferred future for our ministry then moving from there into human implementation through planning, preparation and performance.
This combo plate of life -- the spiritual and the physical; dreaming the impossible and achieving the improbable; faith and fortitude; and human obedience and divine enablement -- all of these are from the Lord.
So, let’s get to believing and get to work. Let’s pray and trust as if it all depends on God and let’s work and serve as if it all depends on us. Enjoy your combo plate -- for lunch ... and for life!
This article was originally published on Baptist Press. Used with permission.
Bob Bender is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Black Forest, Colo., and a former president of the Colorado Baptist General Convention.
Publication date: June 9, 2016