I have just had our 20th Beauty for Ashes Conference here in Johannesburg and every year the task seems greater than my own capacity to do it. Last year I learnt the very important lesson of doing things as part of a team and valuing the team God has placed around you. None of us are to achieve things in the Kingdom of God as individuals; we are placed within the Body of Christ. And it is within this body, that we expand the Kingdom for God.
The lesson came from Mark 2:1-12, which is the story of the four men bringing their lame friend to Jesus, by lowering him through the roof.
The man was lame, because of sin. Sin is the root of all disease and the Lord needs to cleanse us of outward sin as well as sin in our hearts. Sin leads to brokenness, hurt, defeat etc. This man didn’t know how he could get to Jesus, he probably didn’t want to bother Jesus with his problems and had resigned himself to his current state and circumstances. There is a whole world out there that is spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally broken, hurt, defeated etc. Spiritually “lame” because they haven’t been before Jesus. Unable to go on, lost.
These four men, combined their abilities to get their friend to Jesus. One was probably a leader who had a vision, he had seen what Jesus could do and said: “Let’s take him!” One was the muscle man who probably had to carry the majority of the load when they had to lift the stretcher above the crowds. Another was probably the more practical person who found an appropriate stretcher, ropes and probably sharp instruments to make a hole in the roof. Another was a problem solver and motivator, who when the crowd blocked the door and it looked as if they would never get him there, said: “We won’t give up, let’s find another way. We can always lower him through the roof.”
All four combined their skills and ability to get their friend before Jesus, stirring up their determination, preparing, pressing on, working hard, co-operating etc. The audience to this event was teachers and scribes who knew the law well, believers so to speak. Some of them may have needed healing too, but none of them were stirred in their hearts to do this for a friend, or for themselves.
When Jesus saw the faith of the four men, not the faith of the man on the stretcher, Jesus was moved to forgive him his sins and heal him.
As a result of their combined efforts, the man who needed healing and restoration saw Jesus; he heard the voice of God and received what he needed from Jesus. They played a vital role in releasing the power of God both in the life of their friend, as well as the audience. The four men got to see their friend rise, take up his mat and go on into a life with Jesus.
When we join a team of other believers (much like the team of Beauty for Ashes) to do the work to get people in front of Jesus, it is all about making it possible for them to see Him, hear Him and experience Him in their lives. Then, we get to see the power of restoration and healing take place in the lives of people. We see them restored to Jesus, receive forgiveness and healing in their hearts and see them leave conference with Jesus walking beside them.
God does not call us as individuals to do the work of expanding the Kingdom and bring restoration to the world. He always places us in the body of Christ, in a team with varied skills and ability, so that each can bring up their “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) and together make an impact in the lives of others.
What team are you in? Are you playing your role in a team, looking at the overall goal you are trying to achieve (getting the sick and lame to Jesus). Are you willing to play your own individual role, no matter how small or big it is?
If you want to be part of what God is doing here on earth, why not join a team that is already doing what God wants them to do? Being there at the moment that Jesus responds to our faith, is so worthwhile!
Father help me to remember that it is not your intention for me to work on my own, but that You have placed me in the Body of Christ, Your church. Help me to bring my own skills and abilities to contribute, not seeking to give what I don’t have, but only what is in my hand. Help me to appreciate what other members of the team bring and to combine our efforts with excellence to prepare well, do what is necessary to get people in front of Jesus.
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