In high school, I had to study English grammar and, like everyone else, I thought it was boring. That was until something very remarkable in the Word of God began to grip me about prepositions. The unfolding of this to my understanding was part of my preparation for ministry.
Prepositions have to do with indicating location and relationship—things are “in” or “through” or “for” or “by” one another. In the Word of God, and specifically in the book of Colossians, prepositions describe the nature, quality, and terms of how our relationship with God works. They help us to understand how He wants us to stance ourselves toward Him in the light of the way He’s stanced Himself toward us. I call this being “pre-positioned” because it has to do with what He originally had in mind for us, and what salvation in Jesus Christ is able to restore—not only with regard to our eternal destiny but also in our life here on Earth. He wants our lives here to work.
Being “in Christ” is the starting place by which God addresses those who want to know His purpose, fulfillment, and fruitfulness in their lives. God is intensely interested in every detail of our lives and longs for our fulfillment. Our human “repositioning”—sincere as those self-improvement efforts may be—cannot compare with how God has, in advance, pre-positioned everyone who has come to His Son Jesus Christ to see their lives unfold fruitfully and effectively from there: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19, 20). It doesn’t happen in a moment, and it does involve growth. But the phenomenon is that while growth is taking place, God never changes His attitude toward those who have put their faith in Christ.
Getting the point
Grace’s provision is for gracious transmission. Everything the Lord has given to us is that it might be transmitted through us. He rewards us for giving away what He gives to us by continuing to pour in more. Seems like a safe proposition, yet the Lord never stops summoning us to a new point of trust with regard to our giving. In those times when it’s tough to give but we do it anyway, we will discover a new sense of rejoicing. The best way to get refilled is to say, “Lord, You’re the source of my life, and I’m available to let You flow even more through me.”
It’s here where the line is drawn between being a believer and being a disciple. A disciple is one who wants to be all that Jesus intends and is willing to let Him do that in and through their life. It is in Christ that we may be confident where we stand; it is by Him that we are assured of completion; it is in His Cross that we have the victory; and it is with Him that we partner.
Getting the picture
Uncommon grace produces no common people. There are no “small roles” in God’s production. Out of the fountain of His love for us, God is growing sons and daughters in whom the DNA of His being is transmitted. The centerpiece of their lives is not what they can get for themselves, but what they will allow of His love to flow through them to others. That’s what ministry is. In Colossians 3:18-24, the Bible declares that everything in life—from being a husband or wife, a parent or a child, an employer or an employee—is a ministry opportunity: “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” When I finally gave everything I had for Christ, it opened me up to what has become a lifetime of awesome and amazing discovery I could never have imagined.
Getting “the outfit”
It’s about character and commitment. In Colossians 3:5-9 we’re told how to “get dressed” for ministry. First, we’re given a list of disobedient distractions including fornication, covetousness, and anger and told to put them “off.” In the next verses, we are told to “put on” the dynamics of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forgiveness, and most of all, to “put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (v. 14). Surrendering our all for Christ is an action of faith. And when we do that, Jesus comes to do things in us, to walk with us, and to bear us up.
Becoming fountains of life
God calls us to understand this life-giving principle that is so beautifully illustrated by a map in the back of the Bible. We can choose to become like either of two bodies of water in the Holy Land—Galilee or the Dead Sea. In Galilee, the Jordan flows into it and then continues to flow out of it. It is a fountain of life. Galilee is a center of one of the most farmed agricultural regions in the world. In fact, because of the reservoir of resource there, all of Europe is served with produce grown in Israel in the Jordan Valley. The water that flows into and out of Galilee provides enormous blessing globally. In contrast, the water that flows into the Dead Sea is just that—it’s dead. It doesn’t go anywhere. Nothing grows around it. It is as barren as anything you can imagine.
When we choose to stance ourselves toward God in the relationship He’s “pre-positioned” us to be with Him, we are choosing to become a “Galilee”—a fountain of life that is constantly being filled and constantly overflowing. We are His sons and daughters in Christ, open to everything He’s intended for our lives so that He can transmit the greatness of His life, His love, and His blessings in and through us to others.
Copyright 2015 by Jack W. Hayford