Friday, September 10, 2004

God Sees - Who are we Living Before

When I first started to develop the ministry philosophy that I now have, the first question I asked was "who is the customer?". I was working at a manufacturing company, and I was being mentored by a man who learned his management system as a plant manager at a Toyota supplier. If you know anything about manufacturing, Toyota is it.

Well, the Toyota system is based on building and working "with the customer in mind". You only do work that is valued by the customer. All other work is seen as non-value adding or waste. I understood that this customer focus was the core of the Toyota Production System.

At this time, I was aware of a calling on my life and I was also aware that God was teaching me many things through my work. So, I said if the principle #1 is "customer" in what I am learning at my work, "Who is the customer in the church?" "Who are we trying to WOW?" "Who are we trying to satisfy and who are we trying to produce a product for??"

Is the customer, Artesia Arthur and Artesia Ann? If so we need to understand what Artesia Arthur and Artesia Ann want and do that? I knew this was not the correct answer. In the long run, the man on the street is not the customer in the church. The answer to this first question of who is the customer is GOD in the customer. The church is a disciple-making factory and God is the customer. The church builds disciples. Disciples grow in virtue and finally the disciple is offered to God for acceptance as a worker to be used as God pleases for His purposes. This is the product and process of church work.

So as I look to the Ananias and Sapphira story, we have two people in the passage: Barnabas and Ananias. They represent examples given to us by the Holy Spirit through the word which are examples of "good" and "bad" disciples. Barnabas was accepted and Ananias was rejected. Here are two stories of individuals in the early church one very good example and one very bad example. Barnabas was a humble, giving asset to the body of Christ, and Ananias was untrustworthy. Ananias had a motive to be seen by men. Ananias lied. Barnabas was a blessing to the heart of God and the heart of the apostle Peter.

Another issue in the story is that the defining characteristic was this issue of giving. One what we do with our money is important in discipleship. Barnabas made his money available to the poor through the church. Ananias used his money as a means of keeping up appearances. The gifts of these two men was not acceptable or unacceptable because of the size of the gift but the heart of the giver.

Peter says "Ananias the money is in your possession before and it still is. Do with it whatever is right, but don't try to lie to God!" Your gift is given to God not the church. The point is not what the church thinks but what God thinks. God is the customer. It is God before whom we are living. Ananias thought he could impress man with his generosity but God knew better. Ananias tried to live a double life and God saw the defect of his heart and Ananias was rejected.

God does not examine our works so much as he examines us. We are the product, the workmanship of God, and God is the inspector. We live before God. God sees. God is the one we are trying to WOW and satisfy. Barnabas satisfied God for his heart was pure. Ananias tried to impress the apostles and God rejected him.


Rick said...

Perhaps we "wow" God by how we love his world. I mean, agape love... respect and honor, particularly on the outside. God sees how we live our faith by how we love our neighbor and enemies.

Just thinking aloud! Nice post.

Blessing in Christ,
Rick, a lurker

Mojoey said...

When we define your existence in black and white, we walk a razors edge when it comes to the choices we make. It is easy to slip into the trap of rationalization, explaining away decisions that do not fit the ideal model we have built for ourselves. We say to others, I act this way, I do it this way. We take comfort in the moral certitude of our imagined response to life’s challenges. Then comes the test; we often fail. Then we explain, rationalize, analyze, and argue with ourselves, we become desperate to bring our lives back into the moral model we have built for ourselves. Only – the model is reality only if your actions are automatic. Everything else is equivocation. When faced with the test – we must pass.