READ: 1 Kings 16-18, Psalm 104, Matthew 15, 1 Timothy 3
STANDING IN HIS PRESENCE
Among their other qualifications, overseers are to be able to teach (1 Tim. 3:2). Deacons are to hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience (v. 9). Disciples are to have enough internal fortitude to not be bothered by offended the religious powers (Matt. 15:12-14). God’s intention is to make His ministers “a flame of fire” (Psalm 104). To represent God is to be able (and willing) to minster both His love and His rebuke. It is very difficult for us to get the balance right. We either are too soft (which leads to corruption) or too harsh (which crushes).
Gabriel informs Zacharias that he will be mute for a season. Elijah tells King Ahab that there will be no rain for three years. What gives angels, prophets, and ministers the right (and the balance) to be dispensers of judgment? What keeps us from erring on the side of frustrated harshness when we encounter disbelief or outright evil? One thing – abiding in the presence of Jesus.
Gabriel says to Zacharias: “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God and was sent to speak to you…”(Luke 1:19-20). Elijah said to Ahab: “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand…” (1 Kings 17:1). The only way the oracles of God get His judgment or His mercy right is by sustained standing in His presence. We can not glibly pronounce pardon and blessing, nor rashly spout prophetic judgment if we have not made a lifestyle out of abiding in the presence of Jesus. Quick blessing or reactionary condemnation are equally misrepresentative of Jesus when they do not issue from a life that is saturated in the presence of God.
The stakes are too high to be cavalier with our pronouncements. It is imperative (both for our own soul and for the spirits of those we minister to) that ministers of the gospel are people of the presence of God. When we are patient in His presence, we learn how God deals with people. We don’t rush to judgment. We don’t look with human eyes. We wait for God’s perspective, and then we announce it. We may not enjoy what we have to say (and the prophet who enjoys pronouncing disaster is suspect as is the minister who affirms when God condemns), but our affinity for the message is secondary. What is primary is that we have stood attentively in the presence of Jesus and then bolted to pass on His decisions as soon as He bids us do so.
There is a famine in our day for the pristine word of the Lord. We see all around us the decay of sweet pronouncements that are unbiblical and the scathing cut of judgment that is without mercy. The only way for us to get it right – is to stand in the presence of God.