Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Living on Both Sides of "And" by Garris Elkins

Whenever the word “and” is used in the scriptures I pay attention. When God uses this word He is trying to connect things for our benefit.

When Jesus walked on this earth He was modeling for the church what she would become after His death, resurrection and ascension. When Jesus walked on earth in His first body, before the Cross, He was modeling for us what we would look like when He was carried by His second Body, the Church, after the Cross.

A danger can exist in our lives when we read the word “and” in God's Word and then choose to live on either side of that word and feel OK with it.

It is interesting to see where the word “and” is used in the New Testament. In Matthew 4 the ministry of Jesus is being described and the word “and” appears.

“23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. AND he healed every kind of disease and illness. 24 News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed―he healed them all. 25 Large crowds followed him wherever he went―people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River.” (italics and capitalization are mine).

Jesus taught and announced the Good News and the Kingdom of God, AND, He healed every kind of disease and illness. The full expression of the ministry of Jesus was not an either-or situation. He was not either an Evangelical or Pentecostal expression of the Church – He was both.

In another text where the word “and” is used, John the Baptist is waiting in prison about to be served up as a macabre dinner gesture. This is the same man who was there at the Baptism of Jesus when the heavens opened up and the dove of God's presence descended and the very voice of God spoke to those present. It doesn't get more vivid than what took place that day. But John was now having some doubts about Jesus. Prisons, both in the natural and the spirit realm, can mess up our perception of reality.

John sends His disciples to ask Jesus the question, “Are you who you say you are or should we wait for someone else?” In Matthew 11 Jesus sends a response back to John's prison cell that allows John to die in peace knowing that Jesus was truly the Messiah.

4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen―5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 6 AND tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’” (Again, the italics and capitalization are mine)

What does this mean? A balanced ministry will live on both sides of “and.” Some people are more comfortable simply preaching the salvation message. Jesus wasn't. Others feel like they should only press into signs and wonders. Jesus didn't. He did both and so should we. The expansion of God's Kingdom, through signs and wonders, has to walk hand in hand with populating heaven with new believers. If we assign either side of “and” to a less than visible position in our lives and ministries then we will not be walking in the fullness of His assignment for us as the Church.

Life and ministry is a constantly swinging pendulum that moves from one imbalance to another. Our pendulum moves over God's perfect will with each pass. The shorter the cycle of that pendulum swing the more mature the Church becomes. If the pendulum gets hung up on either side of “and” the Church can look like a one legged man trying to win the race by hopping down the race track instead of the well -trained and balanced athlete sprinting towards that for which we have been empowered to become.

1 comment:

  1. I need this reminder. It's so easy to default to my giftings or comfort zones and not contend or keep contending for everything God intended for Him and me. I'm learning to wake up every day asking the Holy Spirit to fill me, following the scripture "be filled with the Spirit"... meaning a continuous, on-going "be being filled"...followed by praying in the Spirit even as my feet hit the floor. I'm back to taking communion with the Lord before I start my day.