The Prime Directive

February 21, 2017

On a recent prayer retreat (Thanks, Tracey!), I made some important connections regarding priorities in ministry. When I came down from my mountain top I undoubtedly had a different perspective, which is the whole idea of a prayer retreat.

And I came back down with a load of zeal for ministry. My head was spinning (and still is) with ideas for jail ministry, retirement home ministry, food distribution, small groups, and a ministry to the severely disabled. I also want to inject new people into our existing ministries. These are all good things.

Moreover, these ideas came from good motives, which has not always been the case with me. Often I have focused on a ministry because I thought we might attract new members or get some kind of good press for it. The motives were NOT to love people. Sure, it probably factored in there somewhere down the line, but it was not the PRIME DIRECTIVE.

Dr. Joseph Dongell, Professor of Biblical theology at Asbury Seminary says it is one thing…there is one answer and there is one target…Only Holy Love.

John Wesley wrote, “Of a thousand mistakes is this: not considering deeply enough that love is the highest gift of God; humble, gentle patient love; that all visions, revelations, or manifestations whatever, are little things compared to love; and that all (other) gifts…are either the same with or infinitely inferior to it. You should be thoroughly aware of this—the heaven of heavens is love. There is nothing higher in religion; there is, in effect, nothing else; if you look for anything but more love, you are looking wide of the mark, you are getting out of the royal way.”

I desperately want us to get on the Good Works train burning down the tracks at one hundred mph, but God stopped me in my “tracks” to remind me how important motives are. I believe God has prepared amazing good works for us to walk in, but we have to be careful how we go about it.

Dr. Dongell writes, “A nurse, for example, can provide life-saving treatment to patients without having or desiring any particular relationship with them. One may be a Christian, and may be functioning effectively in ministry, and may even act so benevolently as to give away all of one’s possession for others, and still not have love, that is, not be a person fundamentally characterized by love. In other words, I may exhaust myself in compassion ministries, and yet at the same time be hyper-competitive, or consumed with self-image, or abrasive, or unforgiving, or impure. This is why a focus on action, a focus simply on motivating people to become active doers may be a far shallower project that we imagine, and may be largely accomplishable in the power of the flesh.”

Ephesians 3:14-19 says it best…
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

It was love for God that filled my heart on that prayer retreat, and it was love that birthed the ideas for ministry of every sort. I can’t forget that. And neither should you. The first thing, the PRIME DIRECTIVE, of the Christian life is to know and be filled with the Love of God.

Dr. Dongell gets the last word…
“For to be filled with love from God is to be energized by the same passion that has been energizing God’s whole redemptive mission. Remember, it was because God so loved the world that he willingly sacrificed his own Son. Love is that unstoppable energy powering every heroic undertaking.”img_0020img_0025img_0013img_0017

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