Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Methods as opposed to intent

Preamble: I continue to spend time regularly, reading Ps Prentis’ blog entries. I can’t really put a finger on it as to why his blog, even though his entries are sound from core theological point of view (and that is important). Perhaps, it is a desire of the Lord put in me, for the season, so that it serves as a means to stimulate in me, the development of a capacity to draw out relevant truths from the Word.

From ink on paper, when we study the Word, we transfer the reservoir of God’s words into ourselves. We need to develop a capacity to draw out the relevant truths from this internal reservoir, as well as what has still remained in the physical words in the Bible. The principle given in Heb 5:14 applies here, too, that by constant use, we develop our retrieval system in order that we can apply the Word of God; even when we acknowledge that the prompting of Holy Spirit is part of that system.

Do you transfer at least some of God’s Word into your internal reservoir? Do you still continue to do that transfer? Do you even keep that physical book handy to refer to, or is it collecting dust on a shelf? Or do you have so many copies of this book that you are having them lying all over the places, but they remained un-thumbed!? It is still just ink and paper if they are NOT retrieved and applied? They are still raw data in you if you have developed a capacity to draw them out or retrieve them, to apply in your life situations, or in the situations of others. God maybe using Ps Prentis’ blog to help me to achieve this end; what about you – what do you do or use regularly, towards this end? Just going to church for the weekend service, is perhaps NOT enough; just test it: Do you still remember or able to retrieve anything from your last weekend sermon you heard in church? One point or none? Even the title or theme, you forgotten!

What you read below, I entitled it, “Methods as opposed to intent” is the entire comment that I put up on reading one of Ps Prentis’ regular blog entries. Ps Prentis’ entry is this, “We can’t forget the crowds“. Because I spend a lot of time on my comments on Ps Prentis’ entries, I figure I cannot afford the time to additionally write up articles on my own blog, as regular as I have done before; for I have also, since October last year, started preaching my own sermons, which I have to prepare, in the Marketplace Divine Healing Meetings I have started and headed up. Additionally, I do hold down a regular secular job, and I have also become the father and mother for my own 2 teenage children.

NOT one method
I cannot agree with you {Ps Prentis} more. The one common problem with many is that they are so fixated on methods or methodology. Be careful, legalism can rear its ugly head. Always differentiate between “intent” and “method”. Generally speaking there are many ways to skin a cat, although of course, NOT in every situation, every single way is acceptable. If it is method, clearly, Scripture supported diverse methods for the same intent, to reach non-believers for God.

Shortcoming of myopic view
One of the things that immature Christians (everyone has come that way, before, including me!) to is to zero in on particular verses, and failed to see the various bigger pictures in collective scriptures; it is like we have a huge painting before us, and all we do, is to be so focused on a part of the painting, seeing, say, an apple on the ground, and NOT seeing there are many apple trees in the painting – in other words, taking a myopic view. To fully get the most out of a painting, one has to look at the picture, NOT only in close proximity, but also from various distances. Like using a microscope, one zooms in and zooms out, seeing singly, and seeing over a wider area. Those familiar with Science, will agree, if you zoomed in, on one amoeba, you may conclude it is one shape, but if you look over a wider area, seeing more, you will know that amoeba has no definite shape!

Constant use
A mature Christian, because of “constant use” (Heb 5:14), can develop more acute discernment of what is good and what is evil, which is the one, for the occasion, and which is NOT the one.

When you eat with someone often enough, you get to know how he holds his chopsticks (I am Chinese-lah), but can he NOT hold it differently at times? Of course, he can. Well, he is the one eating, and that is his intent, to put food into his mouth to eat. If for this one occasion, he holds the chopsticks 2cm higher up the length of sticks, it is NOT unacceptable for his intent and purpose, which is to put food into his mouth. No, if he can manage it, let him be.

He is Master, please Him
Now, is there a difference between that generic “he” in the above example, and God, and between a general stuff like putting food into the mouth with a pair of chopsticks and the doing the things of God? There is; and the core difference is that we are in the context of serving our Master. When we are serving our Master, then the overriding concern of ours, is to please our Master.

Suppose, you need to wrap a gold foil around the part of the chopstick where God would hold the chopsticks; to please God, you observe, and you put the foil at the part you noted your God would customarily hold the chopstick. So, invariably, we are talking about our serving Him, our honoring Him, our loving Him, and so, we pay attention to what He wants. We are to treat God with due reverence concerning all of His ways; that is our duty, that is our job. It does NOT matter God chooses to move the foil higher up the chopstick, for a particular occasion; He is the Master, He can do what He likes. But that which would please your God, is your attentiveness to what pleases Him. Am I sure God likes people to be after His heart? Yes, God held David of the Bible in great esteem for being a man after His heart; and I submit to you, in the Book of Revelation, when Jesus said to one of the churches NOT to lose her first love, in a significant part, Jesus was referring to the church’s lack of attentiveness to what would please God at the moments.

It is about Him, Not about you
In other words, if he prefers you to attention the gospel to the mass in this place for this period, rather than to concentrate on small groups or individual evangelism, you do what he preferred for the moment. You use whatever method or approach God wants, not what you want for the moment, because it is NOT about you; it is about God and His will, His desires, and His intents and purposes.

Often, there is nothing wrong, in itself, of the various methods; it is simply He is the Master, and we are to do that which our Master wants; yes, please Him. He is God, He knows what He is doing, and there is probably a good reason for Him preferring one approach over another at a particular occasion; the fact that we know NOT, the good reason, matters NOT. Even if there is no good reason, if you love Him, you just do it. Is it NOT so, when your darling tells to you to use the love-shape jelly molds instead of the round ones, you just do it? Of course, both sets of mold can do the job; you just use the ones your darling likes.

For success
Another angle to look at why we should just use the approach or method He wants, is that it is His intent, His project, and if it is also His approach, surely, when you are in full agreement with what God wants done and at the time it is to be done, there is every reason to expect God to render His grace for a success. Often, it can be we, of ourselves, are inadequate to accomplish a mission without the backing and resources of the Master, after all, we are servants or slaves. It makes entirely good sense to defer to the Master, in how His mission is to be accomplished; unless you want to show off, but remember, pride often comes before our downfall.

Beware of legalism
Having said all of the above, I must repeat, when it comes to methods, do NOT be dogmatic, and even be found to be guilty of legalism. God does NOT like that, and Jesus showed that, in His earthly ministry. In short, still the best safeguard is to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and to subscribe to Heb 5:14, and note Prov 11:14 which said that there is safety in the multitudes of counsel.

NOT one method but many, to reach people for God
Specific to the subject matter on hand, the intent is clear; God’s desire is none be lost to Hell (1 Tim 2:4), and the way is one, through the gospel, but the methods or approaches to reach out and to present the gospel are varied, and God’s preferred method for you and for your season, and for your setting, may be different from another, but it is NOT necessarily that, that method is wrong and this is right. What is right is to be viewed from its agreement with the desire of God then, in terms of action to be taken and timing. Of course, it is NOT to say there are no boundaries or guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is NOT; often there are. For example, God is NOT evil, so do NOT lie and engage in deceptions. God is holy; he cannot join you in sin.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Lord, I have sensed "heat" coming upon me as I write and review this, perhaps, the things said here have struck a chord in your heart. May you use this to exhort many in what you want them to learn. Amen.

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