Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Barrier to Zion—Self-Interest

I frequently tally up the magnificent gifts I have received from God. He has been very, very good to me. He has provided every needful blessing, and as frosting on a cake, a loving, faithful spouse. He has blessed my physical needs and healed me of very serious medical problems. He has led me to the association of caring and concerned Saints here in the Ozarks. He has also provided the tools of self-preservation.

After experiencing His abundance, one might be tempted to believe God favors one over another. That is simply not true. We of the covenant have equal opportunity to share in His gifts. From a scriptural perspective (I Corinthians 12:4 - 12) we should be aware that all do not receive every gift. For example, at least two former pastors have testified frequently of seeing personages present in various venues where large groups of believers who were present took no notice. Another one has often shared prophetic dreams. It is said that we all dream but I can’t remember any of them. These two examples don’t make me feel less blessed but just different. Although being the recipient of miraculous healing, I do not resent that I am apparently not in a position to encourage God’s healing of others. Oh yes, I pray sincerely for their healing but they sometimes continue to experience chronic extensions of their maladies. It seems I need considerably more study and prayer if I hope to understand the mind and will of God.

In the first paragraph, I mentioned the tools of self-preservation. This is, perhaps, the most nearly universal gift of all. To a greater or lesser degree, we all share this one. If we do not exercise this very needful blessing, and ignore dangers, we may meet Him much sooner than we planned. In possession of this wonderful inheritance are we then subject to transference from self-preservation to self-interest. I submit that we are.

I freely acknowledge self-interest. I do not do so with personal pride because I realize that it is not in concert with the will of God. This trait seems to constantly intrude in our lives and interrupt our goal of establishing Zion. It is difficult to pursue His aims if our every action is tempered by our own priorities. Dare we go forth “without purse or script” to pursue that which God has directed? Our family will soon go to Odessa campground for fellowship with the Saints. I anticipate we shall make lengthy preparations, selecting proper clothing and adequate funding, including miscellany far in excess of our actual needs. This is self-interest in a benign form. Once there, will our prayers be shaped from the heart or will they also have concern for form, substance and proper grammar? This level of self interest is, I believe, more serious, because it courts pride. If none of this sounds familiar, I salute your humility.

Self-interest in individuals is unseemly; in leadership, it can be a disaster. I readily recognize the temptation of leadership in all organizations to allow personal agenda to sublimate the greater goals. We see this everywhere from the local school board to the halls of Congress. In the church, we must be constantly be on the alert for those who would allow self-interest to circumvent the will of God. Is this an accusation? No, it is a warning. I recently read in a review by Andrew Suttaford, something which I choose to paraphrase: Leadership relies on God, but does God rely on leadership? If God does not rely on leaders, what does He have to say about the rest of us?

Cecil Moon

No comments: