I love attending professional baseball games. Living in Atlanta over the past seven years I have frequented a few of the Braves’ games (and even look forward to frequenting some Royals’ games). Every time I attended a game, I would want to leave the stadium with a game ball, whether that was through catching a foul or homerun ball. Who would not want to catch a foul or homerun (other than some woman who was dragged to the game who cares nothing about baseball)? However, it is one thing to “want” to catch a foul or homerun, and quite another to be “positioned” to catch one. To catch a foul or homerun, position is everything. For instance, you may see a good game behind the plate, but you will not catch a foul ball because of the protective net. Thus, there are some prime spots, or positions, to be in order to catch a ball.
The reality is that when it comes to experiencing God work through us, it not so much a “want/desire” to see God work, but a “position” to be in to see God work.
Nearly all believers when asked, “Do you want to see God work?” say, “Yes!” While I believe many of them are sincere (and some just pay lip service), I do think there is a progression many of us (individuals and churches) need to make in order to move ourselves from “wanting” to see—to— “positioning” ourselves to see. In other words, throughout Scripture when God moved and worked, he did not do so through the impromptu question “Do you want to see me work,” but through the position of his people. Here are some positions in Scripture that some of God’s people have placed themselves where they experienced the supernatural working of God. (this list is not meant to be exhaustive, nor in order.)
1) “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30). John the Baptist uttered this as Jesus came on the scene beginning his ministry. John positioned himself to let Jesus work by surrendering himself to a place of humility. John exemplifies the fact that it was not about him, but about Jesus.
2) “You of little faith” (quote from Jesus that he expressed on a number of occasions). In each case Jesus rebukes his disciples for their failure to believe and expect that he (Jesus) could do the remarkable, the supernatural. Jesus desires that his disciples be in a position of expectation; that his disciples expect/believe in the supernatural working of God.
3) “When he saw the/their faith” (quote from Jesus on a few occasions). Here rather than rebuking one’s lack of faith/expectation, he applauds one’s faith. People like the centurion believed that Jesus could do the supernatural, could do the miraculous, therefore approaching Jesus with great expectations.
4) “Your kingdom come, your will be done…” (Matt 6:10). There is so much that I could write about the power of prayer. But here within the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray in a position of expectation where God’s kingdom would invade the earthly realm where heaven comes down to earth. Thus when we pray, part of our prayers should be positioning ourselves to ask, believe, expect that God’s perfect divinely rule would invade earth. God’s perfect divinely rule can invade the earth through salvation, healing (physical, emotional, or spiritual), reconciliation, righteousness, etc.
5) “For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16). This is what Jesus said to Ananias in regards to Saul (or Paul). Paul really picks up on this position of suffering and the willingness to fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Col 1:24). Suffering and sacrifice go hand in hand. To suffer is to sacrifice, to sacrifice is to suffer. These are positions believers take and through our suffering and sacrifice God magnificently works in amazing ways.
6) “proclaim the excellencies of him….abstain from the passions of the flesh…” (1 Ptr 2:9, 11). Peter addresses the notion that our obedience to proclamation and demonstration brings about God’s supernatural working in the world to the point where “when the Gentles speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Ptr 2:12). Jesus, earlier in the Gospel of Matthew, expressed something very similar. He expressed, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16).
7) “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:19). “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). We must be willing to be sent to where people are. Just as God sent Jesus to people, at a specific place and a specific time for a specific task, so too we must be willing to position ourselves among a people to fulfill our task that God has planted us there to accomplish. Thus the task is not to create a Christian subculture, with our holy huddle bubble, but to be in the world (in the city, the region) but not of it. We must constantly remind ourselves that God has called us to a people, a place, not a building.
Thus my challenge to myself and to Northland, as well as to all believers, is to move from a state of “wanting” to see God work, to “positioning” ourselves to see God work.