Do we really want to be vessels

Okay – quiet down please – next item on the agenda.  Item 15 – next year’s (something church work).  How many are we planning for?

About 5000.

Crap!  Are you mad?  Just how are we going to fit that many people in? We don’t have that many chairs – and the fire certificate for the entire building is only 500 – and we only have two toilets – and then there are the cups for hot drinks – and the kitchen couldn’t push through that much hot water that quickly – and …

I wonder how Jesus would have fared within church life structure: Mark 6:34-44

As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.’ But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?’ And he said to them, ‘How many loaves have you? Go and see.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

Each Thursday we take a rickety bus into a cold carpark.  And each evening we complete a report in which we must note how many youngsters were on the bus.  And each week that is a guess – some guess higher and some lower.  So whether 5000 was the feeding number or not – whether it was exactly five loaves and two fishes or not – something miraculous did happen … there was not one committee in sight!

There was no planning – there was just the usual response:  “Okay, we never planned for so many and for this to finish so late. Let’s knock this on the head.  Any other option is out of our league right now.”  And Jesus’ response: Feed my sheep.  And the (unspoken) response: “Crap – are you mad?”

So I wonder how Jesus would get on with all “the structures” we have in place today – whether He would return with the miracles that we cannot (will not?) – whether He would work as patiently with us as He did the disciples – and I wonder if we would do any better than the disciples?

(even with 2000+ years of hindsight and learning – even with 2000+ years of Jesus indwelling each of us every second of every day of each of each of those 2000+ years.  Even as He never left us – even as He is with us right now – right where each of us is right now)

Which is why I have little interest in the precise number of people – no interest in whether it was actually just five loaves and two fish – no interest in whether this “story” has been sexed-up in the telling (and re-telling and re-editing and re-vision).  But I do have a question.

Do we really want to be vessels – or do we prefer to be vassals?

Because we do seem to prefer “perfection planning” rather than emptying ourselves.  We do prefer committees and full diaries rather than emptying them  (Paul – are you mad?  How could we do “kingdom work” … who would plan the services … just how would we know who was in charge … who was helping … who was doing what …  That would be chaos – we would lose control – and that is not how we do God!)  

And I know that Jesus had supporters. And I know He gives us gifts/talents enough to partner each other and Him.  But I do wonder … Have we lost the habit of feeding “His sheep” rather than “our sheep.”

Because if we are “the shepherds” and He is “the boss” … don’t we become vassals again?  But vassals with a twist … “the twist” being that we are not just any two-a-penny common-or-garden “ordinary vassals” – we have become shiny overworked and knackered “Super-Hero-Vassals”!  We call them committees.

So I wonder – just what would God Soft Hands Jesus make of our version of vessels?

 

7 thoughts on “Do we really want to be vessels

  1. I get this and I am with you! Why do we even called it ministry? Isn’t feed my sheep a simple enough instruction- bread and water that’s the simple form of all we need. Think about that!

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  2. Wow. And I went straight to this: “There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends.You celebrate our friendship if you obey this command. I don’t call you servants any longer; servants don’t know what the master is doing, but I have told you everything the Father has said to Me. I call you friends.” (John 15:13-15)

    What does feeding His sheep mean? It means giving our lives to Him in a way that does away with numbers and law and chains of slavery. It means loving.

    Love is the answer.

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  3. The Bible calls any act of service a ministry. Man has taken it and applied a dash of ego here a bit of Id there and placed ministry on a pedestal and stated, “you too can be a super-hero slash celebrity if you do things this way also!”
    This is one of the reasons why when I introduce myself to another blogger through the comments, I am very focused on using the term ministry/service to let people realize that all ministry is, is being a servant, a servant to the person that (hopefully) the Holy Spirit is leading you too. It is like Jesus telling the disciples, “feed the five-thousand” in other words, serve/minister too the 5ooo. Paul the Apostle in many of his writings is continually pointing out that he and the other disciples were ministers but it was not a term of prestige, it was a term of humble circumstance, unlike how many use it today.
    It is a label yes, but it is also an action, to truly serve/minister is to truly demonstrate by action our love for another whether it be through encouraging words, uplifting another, instructing another or even admonishing another if necessary. It is the label only when ego gets involved and then it no longer becomes an action but rather a some-thing.
    I have to agree 100% with Sister Susan too! Numbers don’t mean a thing. If you can change one life by means of loving that life, then you have fulfilled the commandment by Loving God with everything you are and have and loving your neighbor!
    I also agree with Brother Paul that too many have gotten their “spiritual” eyes off of the Lord’s sheep and become more concerned about their own sheep. This is where as VESSELS we do what the Lord commands by surrendering and becoming bond-servants to Him voluntarily. He then IS Master/Lord but our relationship has changed as the Scripture that Sister Susan stated. Our relationship has changed and we become “privy” to His plans and His ways of doing things. A vassal never enjoys that aspect of the relationship, the servant just does because now he expects something in return for his services. Of course, in those that are more concerned about how many numbers they can count under their “ministry” they have never had the “vessel” mentality anyway!
    I do love your take on committees also Brother! I wonder what the Four Gospels would be like if before the Anointed One did anything He called the 12 disciples together to discuss the strategies involved in the next “event” so they can write out the goals, programs and expected results. There would probably be lists, lots of lists and such!
    Great thought-provoking post as usual my Brother!! God bless you for this morning meal!! (it’s 10a.m. here!)

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    • Thank you Roland – much to agree with here – and rather than copying and pasting all your words again – my Lord took me on a different tack: “Check out “minister” and ministry” – how many times did I use them?”

      Answer – as far as I can see – is nada, zilch, nil, none, never did.

      And then I came back to your comment: “It is the label only when ego gets involved and then it no longer becomes an action but rather a some-thing.” Maybe that is why Jesus never used the word.

      >>> Is this the only community where conversations like this take place – all without any rancour and much love?

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