Imposing God's Will On Others

Okay, it is time to get a bit vulnerable. I'm not sure I will be able to articulate this very well, or even say what I mean, but I think I will give it a try.

When I first moved home to start the ministry God called me to start, I moved because God told me to "go" and I did because God told me to "do."

Now, I didn't fight to get paid, because I didn't think it was right of me to impose that demand upon someone who didn't invite me in to minister. But at the same time I do feel as though I was mis-led by human agents who said they would hire me.

My aunt will often gripe to me about how this organization "used me." And it really frustrates me, because from their perspective, maybe they think I used them. No, I don't really think that. But, it bugs me when my aunt says this, because I came to them with the message that God gave me. I think because "I" initiated the conversation I shouldn't push or demand too hard, but instead should be grateful.

But then today, I read Exodus 16 and I am reminded that it wasn't me that imposed the ministry upon the regional aspect of the organization, rather it was all a part of God's plan and it was His request. Much like how it was God's plan to answer the Israelite's plea for help by delivering them from slavery among the Egyptians in exchange for some time traveling in the desert towards their destination. Moses and Aaron were agents of God's will.

Exodus 16:3 reads: "The Israelites said to them, 'If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.'"

and then verses 6-7 "So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, 'In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?"

I read somewhere recently about how once we become unified with Christ everything we do and everything that is done to us is done by or to Christ. I'm not quite sure what I think about this idea, but this chapter in Exodus has further grabbed my curiosity about whether this concept is true.

When one is doing church work, people often complain about the minister. So, when the minister is led by God to do certain works and the people complain, are they really complaining about the minister or are they complaining to God?

So, later in the 16th chapter in verse 12 God is recorded as saying: "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.'"

So, this leads me to another question: What is God's perspective on grumbling? Doesn't it say elsewhere in scripture not to complain or argue, so that we might be blameless and pure children of God? Yet here God responds to the people's grumbling by meeting their complaint.

As Christian ministers what are we to learn from the interaction between God, the Israelites, and Moses? As members of the body of Christ, what are we to learn about grumbling? Hmmm. A lot to think about.

Comments

Sydney Darnay said…
Perspective 1: Whether people are complaining about the minister or complaining to God depends on whether the minister is in fact executing God's will. There should at minimum be a process whereby a minister is accountable to his or her congregation, however. The minister is not exempt from the challenge procedures in Matthew 18.

Question: How does the Israelites' grumbling play out in the larger context of Scripture? For example, my reading is that numerous times, particularly in the Old Testament, God used people to do great things despite the fact that they violated one or even several divine ordinances. Often, Scripture neither condones nor condemns their behavior but is instead silent on that point, focusing instead on what God did through them. I think the lesson may be the same in this instance. Moses repeatedly chastised the Israelites for being a "stiff-necked" people, and in his parting speech in Deuteronomy he even lays the blame at their feet for his losing his temper and not getting to enter the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:37; 3:26; 4:21-22). Instead of blessing them because they were righteous (i.e., grumbling isn't a big deal), God blessed them precisely because they were unrighteous--they didn't deserve the manna and the quail, but he provided for them to teach them about his character and to demonstrate his power and glory, not only to the Israelites, but to all the nations of the region and ultimately the world (Deuteronomy 4:35-40; 8:3,5,16-18; 9:4-6).

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