Enjoying God and The Kingdom
from Enjoying God
by Josh Hunt
Some may worry that as we emphasize what Piper calls "Christian Hedonism" the kingdom issues will suffer. We fear that people will no longer be motivated to worry with the advancement of the kingdom; they will only worry about their own joy is God.
I have found this not to be the case. The very first teaching I did on Enjoying God had the surprising result of having two people, out of a group of thirty or so, respond to the teaching by saying, "We need to get back involved in the hospitality ministry. This is something we enjoy and we enjoy serving God by doing." (The hospitality ministry is a plan where couples have recent church visitors into their home for an informal evening of games and snacks. We have found that something like 90% of the people that we are able to have in our homes will join the church.)
Notice that they did not say this out of some lavishness. They said it because we were talking about enjoying God and it is intuitive that a relationship with God includes serving Him according to our giftedness. They understood this without it even being mentioned.
It is interesting that I had thought this same thing of these couples prior to this teaching--that they ought to be more involved in the hospitality ministry. I was trying to figure out a way to confront them about it. I wanted to encourage them to get back with it. This indirect route--through the paradigm of enjoying God--proved to be more effective than a frontal assault.
People who serve this way don't tire as easily. Sure, they still need to maintain a balanced life, but they tend to "own" the ministry. And nothing motivates like ownership. People don't wash rent-a-cars, but they spit shine the one they own. At least, some people do.
When people get alone with God and cultivate an enjoying relationship with him they are hard to de-motivate. They work year after year without external supervision or motivation because the joy of the Lord is their strength.
The Stewardship of the Gospel
People who enjoy God also understand that God has entrusted them with the stewardship of His most valued treasure, the gospel. "I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." (Jude 1:3) It took a scare in a small town hospital to demonstrate to me the meaning of the word stewardship.
When our youngest son, Dustin was a little over a year, we had a terrifying experience that taught me this lesson. We were on a vacation that we had planned for some time. Dustin had been a little sick, but we opted not to wait and take him to the doctor. He slept for the first hour and then, just as we pulling up on one of the few towns on our journey, he began to cry. As we pulled into town, he stopped crying suddenly. Sharon looked in the mirror and burst into a horrible scream. She sounded terrified. Her tone said everything. I turned abound, and to my shock, his body looked comatose. He was limp. His eyes rolled into the back of his head. You realize in those moments how fragile and how precious life is. It looked like life was seeping out of him like water from an overfull sponge. We rushed him to the only hospital in our four hour trip. I am sure I was anything but coherent and Sharon was less so. When we arrived at the hospital, I tried to explain the best that I could, "My baby is acting really weird..."
"He just went limp..."
"And his eyes rolled in the back of his head."
"Does he have a fever?"
"I have no idea. What is this? What is happening to my baby? Is he going to die? Can we see a doctor?"
"I don't think so." She looked at me, "Why don't you take your older boy into the waiting room and fill out the paper work. We can't see anyone until the paper work is filled out and they are checked in and we know about the insurance and all."
She meant they couldn't see anyone unless it was a life or death kind of emergency, which she didn't think this was, but she left out that detail in her explanation. What I heard was, "No paperwork, no doctor."
She sent me into the waiting room with Dawson, while Sharon and Dustin, separate from us, waited in the back. I could relax for a while, but it wasn't long before I began to panic. They had one person who was in charge of answering all incoming calls to every room in the entire hospital, checking everyone in and out of the whole hospital, as well as checking people in and out of the emergency room. (Admittedly, this was not a big city hospital, but still . . .) They would not let a doctor see our baby, that I was convinced was on the brink of death, until the paper work was filled out. I can live with that, if we can get on it. But I was not prepared for what happened next. Nothing in life ever frustrated me like that next forty five minutes.
She would ask me a question and be interrupted by an incoming call: your name?
"Just a moment please."
"Room 129? Yes, I'll put you right through."
"2744 . . ."
"Just a moment please. Uh huh, uh huh, yes, no, about an hour. No. Yes." Click.
"Bright Star Place."
It took a full forty five minutes to fill out some simple forms so my baby could see a doctor. At some point you must ask, "Do I want to entrust my baby's life to the care of an organization like this?"
That is what stewardship is all about. Caring for what does not belong to you, but may be precious to someone else. It is an entrustment from another. I learned that day a lesson in "He who is faithful in that which is least." (Luke 16:10) Because of the way they handled check in service, I had a hard time entrusting them with my baby. But I had no other choice. This is New Mexico. We could not run down the street to another hospital. There is nothing but yucca plants, rattle snakes and road runners for 75 miles.
Another family did leave. They brought their baby in, they waited about 20 minutes and said, "Forget this, we are going home, we can wait at home." I don't think he was as sick as my baby.
A friend who runs an office supply business happened to be traveling with us and was in the waiting room. He told me later he ran his business like they run theirs he would be out of work in a month. But they had no competition. The people of this community had no choices.
God has left us with the stewardship of the most precious of things, the work of His Son. People who enjoy God treasure that stewardship. It is constantly on their mind. They cannot shake the thought that God sent his Son to die to pay our penalty and reconcile us unto himself, and he left us as the messenger boys. We are the care takers of that message.
How it hurt to hand my baby over to someone I did not know in a place I had never been with an organization that was doing anything but gaining my trust.
People who enjoy God are eager for God to never feel that way. They do not want to grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30). They want the God they enjoy to feel that He has left His Baby, the gospel in good hands.