This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. – Psalm 118: 23
April and I just had a marvelous conversation. It came at a time when I felt a little misguided and troubled about where we are and what we’re doing. The conversation’s tenor and tone revealing the goodness of God for our sakes and for the sake of those who have yet to taste hoe good God is.
We found ourselves talking about the difference between working for God and working from God. We’ve worked professionally for God for over 20 years. There’s very little we’ve individually or collectively regret about ministry over the last two decades, but we operated in the church for God. We presumed much from scripture, tradition, experience and reason. It always positioned us to work for God and to his glory. That’s not bad. Its ok.
What has caused a significant shift in our lives is the Lord revealing to us the power of working from God, instead of for God. Working from God is from a place of reckless pursuit of the God that loves beyond all reason. Working from God is listening for his voice and encouragement from scripture and experience and taking steps of faith. Working from God is resting in a trust relationship with a God who is always good and always in a good mood. Working from God is knowing that we’re sowing seed and not every patch of ground is able to receive what is sown, but that doesn’t deter us because his steadfast love endures forever.
You may say, “I don’t see the difference between from and for.” Ok, I’m not saying that one perspective is good and one perspective is bad. I am, however, saying that we so often, to quote Oswald Chambers, trade the best for the good. Working for God, taking scripture and tradition and applying it to actions of love and justice and peace because we’ve been taught so, is good. Working from God, from a place of peace and salvation and from a life where encounters with a God (either through liturgy or free flowing worship) who loves outrageously are the norm-whether small or great. Working from that place is not based on our own effort and insistence. Working from that place of assurance and peace does not produce anxiety. It produces joy. John Wesley said the primary characteristic of a Christian is joy.
Simply said, working for God is to please him (that’s good). Working from God is knowing he’s already pleased with us (that’s best).