If we become a necessity to "a soul", aren't we "out of God's order"? As a Christian worker, our great responsibility is: to be a friend of the Bridegroom. When once we see a soul in sight of the claims of Jesus Christ, we know that our influence has been in the right direction, and instead of putting out a hand to prevent the difficulties, pray that they grow ten times stronger until there's no power on earth or in hell that can hold that soul away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we become amateur providences, we come in and prevent God; and say - "This and that mustn't be." Instead of proving friends of the Bridegroom, we put our sympathy in the way, and the soul will one day say - "That one was a thief, he stole my affections from Jesus, and I lost my vision of Him."
Let's beware of rejoicing with a soul in the wrong thing, but let's see that we do rejoice in the right thing. "The friend of the Bridegroom . . . rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease." This is spoken with joy and not with sadness - at last they are to see the Bridegroom! And John says this is his joy. It's the absolute "withdrawal from notice" of the worker, he's never thought of again.
Let's watch for all we're worth, until we hear the Bridegroom's voice in the life of another. Let's "never mind" what havoc it brings, what upsets, what crumblings of health, let's rejoice with divine pleasure...when once His voice is heard. We may often see Jesus Christ "wreck a life" before He saves it. (Matt. 10:34.)
Our Greatest Obstacle
Our human nature is infected with a spirit of self and self-preservation. We struggle to be strong, self-reliant, to feel in control. The way of the cross to which we've been called is very different.
Verse 36 of Romans 8 says, "As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
God's "accounting" system is in sharp contrast to ours. Human nature accounts "self" as something to be preserved at all costs. To man, "self" is a great asset; to God, it's a great liability. "Self" is the greatest obstacle we face in serving God.
Left to ourselves, we'd choose the pathway of ease, of convenience. How many of our prayers revolve around trying to get God to remove every difficulty from our lives? We imagine that serving a great loving all-powerful God should be like a pleasant walk along a garden pathway. When it isn't, we think something is wrong!
And there's plenty of religious people around to tell us that something's indeed wrong, that if we only had enough faith, every difficulty would simply melt away and life would be one unbroken triumphal march to heaven! It's teaching like that...that keeps people chasing in vain for the "magic experience" or the "secret formula" to make it all happen.
If it was necessary for the very Son of God to go through sufferings to become what He is---are we exempt? The reality is: that the Christian life is an "obstacle course" designed by an all-wise Heavenly Father to bring about the exercise of our God-given faith that we might become what He has purposed. Within His will, some obstacles can indeed be made to go away, while others are meant to be endured. Christ made the storm cease but endured the cross -- unto death. Both were forms of overcoming.
Consider the heroes of faith in Heb. 11. Read verses 32-40 for a summary of
the many examples of overcoming faith. Those who suffered persecution and
even death are honored equally with those who won great battles or walked
around in a fiery furnace. The real obstacle isn't the circumstance, but
self...and what self wants. There's a lifelong conflict between what self
wants and what God wants. Every time we find the grace to say, "Not my will,
but thine be done," self dies a little and the inward man grows stronger.
That's what Paul meant when he spoke in II Cor. 4:16 of the "outward man"
perishing and the "inward man" being renewed.
Note also...that Paul says, "day by day."
The Call of God
"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel."
(1 Corinthians 1:17)
Paul shares that the call of God is to preach the gospel; but remember what Paul means by "the gospel"... that is, the reality of Redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We're apt to make "sanctification" the end-all of our preaching. Paul alludes to personal experience by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter. We're nowhere commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification; we're commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (John 12:32). It's a travesty to say that Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to redeem the whole world, and place it unimpaired and rehabilitated before the throne of God. The fact that Redemption can be experienced by us is an illustration of the power of the reality of Redemption, but that's not the end of Redemption. If God were human (and His isn't), how sick to the heart and weary He'd be of the constant requests we make for our salvation and for our sanctification. We tax His energies from morning till night for things for ourselves---some thing for me...to be delivered from! When we touch the bedrock of the reality of the Gospel of God, we'll never bother God any further with little personal plaints.
The one passion of Paul's life was to proclaim the Gospel of God. He welcomed heart-breaks, disillusionments, tribulation...for one reason only...because these things kept him in
unmoved devotion to the Gospel of God.
Let's do likewise!