As Colin Marshall and Tony Payne write in their book The Vine Project, “it seems too obvious to say that God’s people are the agency by which the word is proclaimed in prayerful dependence on the Spirit. Who else is it going to be?”
But it’s a good thing to be reminded of.
As it says in Ephesians 2:10, “we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”– good things like noticing others, praying for them and their lives even if you’ve never spoken to them before, listening to and welcoming them, demonstrating love. And the God of the universe has hand-picked you to get it done.
You are not created to sit on the bleachers and watch someone else play the game.
You are not his B-team or last choice.
God has specially picked you to be adopted into his family and to play a critical role in his redemptive plan to reconcile the world to himself.
You are on God’s A-Team, each selected to be a Great-Commission Christian.
This is us
In The Vine Project (© Matthias Media, 2016), Colin Marshall and Tony Payne give us a compelling reminder that this is, indeed, who we are and what we’re called to:
- God uses means or agents to do his work. In particular, he works through his people. It’s not that God does some of the work, and then leaves the rest of it to us (or vice versa). God works in, under and through our actions with his own action, to achieve his own purposes. In doing so, God doesn’t violate our will, or render our action any less our action. When we do something (i.e. some ‘planting and watering’), we are really doing something–but God works in and through that activity to bring growth in a way that we cannot control. It’s 100% us, and 100% God.
- This is important to grasp, because it saves us from proudly overvaluing our efforts. . . . . However, it also saves us from undervaluing the importance of our efforts, as if faithfulness, diligence and skill in planting and watering are optional. We are God’s fellow workers. If our work for him is careless or faithless then the results will not be good, either for us or for the church.
- Which people does God use to make learners of Christ? God uses his covenant people, his congregation, his saints. . . . God chose Israel to be for him “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6), a vocation at which they failed spectacularly. The prophets looked forward to a time when Israel would be a light to the nations, and in the New Testament we see that day dawning. Christ’s new covenant people are the holy nation, the royal priesthood. . . . They are a redeemed people, small and great, young and old, on whom the Messiah has poured out the long-promised Spirit so that they might prophesy and tell forth the great deeds of God.
- The practical outworking of this important theme is that in the new age of the Spirit, all God’s people have their mouths opened to speak God’s word by his Spirit–to one another and to the world. They will do so in different ways, in different contexts, taking up different opportunities, with different levels of gift, and indeed different levels of responsibility (some will be pastors and teachers)–but that God’s word would be proclaimed on the lips of all his new covenant people is a given in the New Testament.
- This word is not only proclaimed by all; it is of course lived out and exemplified by all. . . . The theme of imitation, modeling and example as a means of learning and growth is a common one in the epistles. . . . The word is proclaimed by people who show its truth and character by living it out, thus instructing and encouraging others, who in turn embrace the word and live it out.
- As God’s people prayerfully proclaim God’s word by God’s Spirit, the godly fruit that is produced in people’s lives can be summarized as love.