Working at What (Matthew 12:30)

Photo by Chen Mizrach on Unsplash

Having directly addressed the Pharisee’s stunning and blasphemous  statement that  Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Satan, Jesus makes His own stunning statement, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

Most Christ-followers are actually looking for the sharp divide. We like black and white, clearly laid out lines of demarcation. We don’t mind Jesus pointing out that there is no place for neutrality in the Spiritual war. We like knowing that we are either in Jesus’ camp and not in the enemy’s camp. It is OK that He says we are either working toward the harvest by gathering with Him, or scattering the crop and making it more difficult to finish the harvest. So when we hear that comment we understand that He must be talking about the enemy. He must be talking about “them”. We hear the words, and without even really considering what He is saying, we impute righteousness to ourselves and unrighteousness to them. It even makes sense to us, because it feels good to be on the ‘right’ side of the war. 

Jesus’ wording recalls to mind His earlier comment, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” The Lord sees the harvest and is Himself actively working the harvest, but also mindful that not all His people are helping. A few are, but most are scattering and making the whole exercise much longer and more difficult than it might otherwise be. He makes this comment then not as a glib observation, but a pointed job to make us aware; If we are not with Him in what He is now doing, we are actually against Him in what He is doing! 

That is a sobering thought to most Christ-followers. For most honestly believe they are trying to live as good a life as they can. They would say that they want to live lives that are fulfilled and happy and content. They want to have a great experience of worship on a regular basis. They want to go about their days knowing and expecting God to be watching over them and helping them in all they put their hands to. They see the Christ-honoring life as just a little different from the life of the unsaved, expecting that the Lord does not mean to speak into their autonomous life choices other than to ask for the occasional prayer and perhaps a weekend service once a month. They are blissfully unaware that the reason Christ calls us to Himself is that we might be involved in what He is doing. 

He is on a mission. His mission. A mission to expand His glory by making disciples of all nations. He expects us to be likewise focused on that mission. After all, our lives are not our own. We are His creation, called to salvation by His election and redeemed by the price He paid on Calvary that we might be fully His. Our lives are not ours to live as we choose. They are to be poured out for His glory. We are called to be living sacrifices to reach all people for His honor. Even those (arguably especially those) who are of other cultures. 

If we as His people are not focused on that mission, then can we say we are truly obedient disciples? And if not, can we say we are merely on the sidelines, or are we actually and in real life against His cause? A Christian who is not doing what they can to make disciples of those around them is not unlike an employee who claims to be a diligent member of the team but doesn’t actually do any of the work; One has to ask if they are ‘for’ their employer, or just for themselves. 

To be sure, one finds examples of groups which give little or no indication that they desire either the cleansing fire of the holy flame or the empowerment of the holy wind. For whatever reason, they have not entered into the reality of the outpoured Spirit and consequently are not on mission to “Jerusalem, … Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Gilbert W. Stafford

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Let us be intentional about what we are doing. About how we spend our time, our effort and our money, so that we might do all we can to bring Christ all the glory He so richly deserves.