Lesson Two: I am Not Indispensible to the Kingdom of God!

LESSONS FROM LAUSANNE: Reflections on the work of the Lord at Cape Town 2010 Third Congress on World Evangelism

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Psalms 90.16

When Moses was given a vision for ministry he immediately went to prayer and that prayer is recorded in Psalm 90. It is the oldest Psalm in the Psalter. It is a model for all of us to “remember our days” and also to know that unless we have the Lord’s favor, all of our work in the Gospel is for naught. On the other hand, it teaches about the “work of our hands” (17), which we should do. Yet there is another lesson here, a lesson that I have applied to my brief experience thus far at Cape Town: I am not indispensable to the Kingdom of God.

I do not know if Moses had a premonition of his situation, that he nor his generation would not enter the Promised Land, that it would be the next generation, but he prayed that the Lord would show His work, that is, His intended work for them to do to carry forth His divine purposes in the world, not only to them but to “their children.” It would be the children, having seen God’s “glorious power” at work in the lives of their parents, that would carry the dream forward and who would bear the purposes of God across the Jordan.

I am discovering that here at Lausanne in many ways. Let me mention two.

Firstly: After twenty-five hours of travel and two hours of sleep, I was given an epiphany: I am not twenty years old any more. My back hurts, I underestimated my need of sleep, I am thus clinging to coffee, Tylenol and Imodium and wondering if there is a tomorrow. I think there will be if the Lord tarries, but right now it doesn’t feel like it. I say this because I see a new generation of Christians arising to take up the mantle of youthful leadership in the Kingdom. I am not old, I don’t think, but I am older than the young Israelites who need to do the hard, back-breaking work of taking on the Amorites in hand to hand battle. I am a preacher, a servant of God to His Kingdom and His people and the world, through a seminary, but I best do so through pacing myself more than I did when I was younger. I could plant two churches, found a Christian school, lead boards, write dissertations and books and still be a pretty good husband and father (Mae will know that, not I), and still read more books in a week than I could pay for in a month. But now I am a little older. I need to realize that there are others coming behind me. They are not twenty, they are thirty and older. They are taking up the first level mantle of leadership. I need to encourage them and help them put that mantle of leadership on. I also need to remember that if I don’t care for this body that God has given me, it won’t last too long! So let my work be for the marathon and not the “horse race” as one wise board member recently told me. That was good advice. This morning I am feeling that rather personally and physically! The kingdom does not rest on this bad back. For that matter it does not rest even on the backs of younger pastors or more able Christians. It rests on the blessed Body of Jesus Himself and on the work of the Holy Spirit and God’s glorious, wondrous intentions to redeem this world. The kingdom is not up to me. It takes a 25-hour trip to Cape Town to realize that.

Secondly: I am amazed at the amazing work of Jesus Christ in our generation among young Christian leaders in places and in denominational groups that would have otherwise escaped me. This lesson of Lausanne is that the “children” who are seeing “God’s glorious power” and now seeing His “Work” and are doing it. Last night, blurry eyed as I was, I could not escape the vision of what I witnessed in the elevator coming up to my room. I met two Iranian young men who are laboring for Christ outside of Iran, but with intentions of revival inside of Iran. God has shown them His glorious power and His work to do and they are doing it. We talked briefly of the re-emergence of the ancient Persian Church. One of them saw my RTS pin that I wear on my lapel and in fact that was what started the conversation. He knew of RTS and its work and told me that Iranian Christians have been impacted by our work, no doubt through RTS Virtual. Our sermons and lectures and other teachings are going out, about four million this past year, to Christians all over the world. I was so encouraged; but I was encouraged not merely that RTS is having an impact and that God showed that to me in a brief moment soon as I arrive, but He revealed that the Kingdom of God is so huge, growing at such a rapid rate, multiplying and being taken to new levels never seen before in the world’s history, that I should just stop and praise God for His work among “our children” who are really seeing the vision and are going after it! Praise the Lord.

Today Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi opens Cape Town 2010 with an evening message. The saints, representing denominations and nations all over the earth will come together (remembering the Chinese delegation who were held up by their government and who are not with us, even as we pray and know that Christ’s kingdom cannot be stopped by any government) and we will worship the Lord Jesus Christ. May God let His work be known to His servants and His glorious power to our children in the faith; children of Christ who are stronger than I am, more able, more passionate, and who have seen His vision and are following it. May I encourage them and if God has given me any insights through my years as a young pastor, a maturing pastor, may I share them eagerly with those who are coming behind. I will never stop preaching as long as God gives me life and breath and open doors. But the Kingdom will not begin and end with me. I need to keep running the race, but remember that there are those who can run faster.

Also follow Dr. Don Sweeting,[1] President and Professor of Church History at RTS Orlando, on The Chief End of Man as he too blogs about Cape Town 2010.

[1] Please follow his reflections on his blog, The Chief End of Man.

About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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