We have lots of activity in the western church. We have a plethora of conferences, meetings, and programs. We feed the poor. We have outreaches to reach the lost. We have small group meetings and fellowship. We plan and strategize how to made things better. We tweak things so that that they will be better the next time around. We do a lot for God. All of these things are necessary… but I wonder if we are trading intimacy with God for activity for God? Pastors and ministry leaders are so busy doing things for God that they are burning out and quitting ministry at an alarming rate. Why is that?
We have lots of activity in the western church but the sad truth is that we are not changing the culture around us. I believe if most ministers were honest they would say that they are not satisfied with the fruit they are seeing in ministry. If we are so busy doing things for God then why are we not seeing the fruit that Christ died for?
Would Christ rather have us do more things for him or be with Him? What does God want more?
Imagine a husband that is always doing things for his wife. He works hard and puts food on the table. He buys his wife expensive gifts. He makes sure that if something breaks in the house it’s fixed in a timely manner. He sends her on expensive vacations, and so on. He does all these things for her but there is no real friendship. He gets SO BUSY and DISTRACTED in doing things for her that he fails to give her what she wants most- a real heart to heart relationship. In this marriage no true intimacy takes place.
This paints a picture of what it’s like often with the western church and Christ. We do all these things for Jesus and then we fail to give Him what He wants the most- INTIMACY.
God wants relationship over productivity.
The church can be like a hamster on a wheel always spinning in circles. It can be in a place where a lot of activity takes place, but in the end nothing of significance is accomplished- we are just spinning our wheels.
Some criticize those that spend quality time in prayer and say, “there are so many people that are lost in the world, how can you just pray for hours at a time when you could be out reaching the lost? You need to put feet to your prayers.” Of course reaching the lost is of utmost important, and we need to do good works (James 2:14), but what does God want more? The Lord very clearly shows us what He desires in the story of Mary and Martha.
Mary and Martha
38 “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Martha was busy DOING THINGS for Jesus. She was so distracted by all the preparations that she failed to see what Jesus wanted the most at that moment. He wanted fellowship. He wanted intimacy. Jesus wanted to share His heart and all Martha was thinking about was work. There is a time and a place for everything and at that moment Jesus wanted fellowship. In verse 41 Jesus tells Martha that only one thing was needed- spending time with Him. Many in the western church are guilty of saying to the prayer movement- “What are you are doing! You are wasting your life. Stop praying and start doing! Go out and reach the lost! Put some feet to your prayers.”
Productivity will come as a natural result of intimacy with Christ.
When you are connected to the heart of God through intimacy you can’t help but do things for Him. You will bear much fruit because you have God’s heart and you have heaven’s strategy. Now you are not doing ministry out of your own effort or strength- you are doing it with God’s help and strength. If we want to produce lasting fruit we must stay connected to the vine through intimacy.
Intimacy must always come before productivity if we are to make a lasting impact for the Kingdom
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” -Jesus
Lets stay connected to the vine through prayer and intimacy, then and only then will we see lasting fruit in our personal lives and ministries.