On most Monday afternoons around 5:30 you’ll find my Dad and me at Starbucks sharing a Venti Mocha and an hour or so of talking about life and God’s role in it and our role in Him. It’s really about growing and learning who we are in our relationship. It’s sweet.
This week the subject came up of being used by God in the Kingdom and why some who seem useless are used while some that seem very useful are not used at all. I think that each of us is in one of three places in terms of service to God and his Kingdom. We are in Useless, Usable or Useful.
If we are in Useless, we are not listening, not growing and not productive. This place is often busy and engaged in religion. In Useless, ministry crowds out God and his desire to refine, develop and mature us. Useless is like an old western movie set. Everything looks real and productive and even happy. But the reality is, it’s all a facade. This is where Saul was prior to the Damascus Road.
If we are in Usable, this means we are “in training”. God has our attention and we are actively involved in the process of hearing him and growing through his work in us, but we are not ready for the work he has in mind. Usable is a lonely place. Friends often resent those who go there. There is a temptation in Useable to think we are ready for the work God has in mind. This is where Paul was during his trip to Arabia.
If we are in Useful, we have learned from God. We’ve spent the time to hear the instruction of the Sprit and to grow in our love for Christ. We are ready for the work God has prepared for us. Useful is a peaceful place.* In it, we are content. We are not concerned about pleasing people or fighting battles.
Paul understood this when he wrote to Philemon about Onesimus, “Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me” (Philemon 1:11). Onesimus was useless as a slave, he became a Christian and son to Paul and became usable. Paul sent him back to Philemon as useful. If you find yourself in Useless, stop resisting God and leave that place now. If you are in Usable, thank God that he considers you worthy and be diligent to learn from him until you're ready. If you’re in Useful, then you’re doing well. Press On.
* It was pointed out by my brother in law that being useful for God can get you killed, like the prophets and the Lord. While this is true what I am wanting to speak to is peace with God. Knowing we are in his will, and productive in his Kingdom is a place of great peace. There will be battles, but they will be his and not our own.