I have been thinking about why I became a minister of religion in the first place. Did I really have noble aims of 'reaching the lost' and 'introducing people to Jesus' or was it something else? Maybe it was a mixture of things.
I think part of it was responding to a call from God to be involved in full time ministry of some kind. I spent much of my nursing career (I was a nurse before I worked for the church) terrified that God would ask me to go to some developing country where it is really hot and they have scary creepy crawlies. In fact when the call came it was to minister to the people of Britain not anywhere else. I was hugely relieved I can tell you! My view of God was 'if you dread doing something, that is always what He will make you do'. I remember being challenged and hopeful at the same time, when I read something by Gerald Coates in which he said, 'your ministry is probably something you enjoy doing'. It was the first time I had seriously thought that maybe God would not make me do the very thing I dreaded.
On the surface I was feeling 'holy' and wanting to 'serve God'. Maybe a part of me was feeling proud of the fact that I wanted to do these things with my life. That in itself is not a good start! The more I have thought the more I realise that I was trying to earn favour from God. I thought if I was in full time ministry then God would be more likely to really love me and give me what I wanted.
Although on the surface I was saying all the right things about why I was in ministry underneath it all was a little girl trying to earn love from her heavenly Father. I was trying to prove to myself, and to God, that I am loveable. It was like I didn't think the cross on its own proved that God loves me.
Virtually all of my understanding of God was head knowledge not heart knowledge. I could say the right things, I could teach others the right things. I taught about the grace of God, His unconditional love and acceptance. But at a heart level I was still trying to earn His love and acceptance by being a 'good girl'.
Obedience is a reaction of gratitude to God's grace, not a way of earning His love. John 14:23 says, "Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." When I used to read that verse I would see in my mind an angry God wagging his finger at me, saying petulantly 'if you loved me, you would obey me', implying we don't really love him, and that to prove our love for Him we must sacrificially obey Him. That is what I was subconsciously thinking when I went into ministry.
Now I see that verse in a different light. I am beginning to realise that Jesus is saying 'It is your love for me that will give you the ability to obey me'. The more we love someone the easier it is to do things for them. The love we feel for them motivates us to do things and make sacrifices for them. Obeying Jesus' teaching is the same. The more we love Him the more we will automatically want to obey Him.
I am at the stage now where I need to concentrate on my love relationship with Jesus. I want to learn to really recieve His love and have a genuine relationship with Him. For this reason I think it is vital now that I don't rush into anything at all. I just take each day and each moment as it comes, learning once again to hear God's voice.
©Charlie Mackesy www.charliemackesy.com