The Lord’s Work Done in the Lord’s Way
Jesus Our Model
Jesus is our perfect example of how to do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way. In his book Living As Jesus Lived, Zac Poonen spoke of this, saying,
Jesus has not only redeemed us through His death, but also shown us through His life on earth, how God intended man to live. He is not only our Saviour but also our Forerunner (Heb. 6:20). He has given us an example of how to live at all times and in all situations, in perfect obedience to God. Jesus did not come to earth as an angel, but like us. The Bible says, “He was made like His brothers in all things” (Heb. 2:17) (His brothers are His disciples— Matt. 12:50.) If He had not been made like us (His brothers) “in all things,” He could not have become our Example.1
Consider the example He gave us in the Gospel of John. All throughout, we see Jesus saying, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19). “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). “I speak what I have seen with My Father” (John 8:38). “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49). “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10).
In all these verses, there is a common element—Jesus did nothing and said nothing apart from the Father. Everything Christ did flowed out from His relationship with the Father. Nothing else and no one else, not even Himself, motivated Jesus to do what He did.
Remember when Jesus called His disciples? Nowhere in the Gospels do we read that the Father called the disciples. Jesus went and called the disciples. But when He talked to the Father about them, He said, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me” (John 17:6, emphasis mine).
Do you see it? The selection of the 12 disciples was not Christ’s choice; it was His Father’s. Jesus was only doing the Father’s will.
The night before Jesus called them He didn’t sleep. He “continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). All night He stood before His Father waiting for His direction and plan, and “when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself” (Luke 6:13).
He didn’t say, “John, Matthew, My Father is calling you.” No. He said, “Come, follow me” (Mark 1:17, NIV). And they followed Him.
Another thing we can learn from our Lord as we serve Him, is how He made Himself a servant to the Father. Therefore, it was never external things that motivated Him, but His love for the Father and desire to serve Him and do what He desires.
Jesus never acted merely because He saw a need. He saw the need, was concerned about it, but acted only when His Father told Him to. He waited at least four thousand years in Heaven, while the world lay desperately in need of a Saviour, and then came to earth when His Father sent Him (Jn. 8:42). “When the right time came, the time God decided on, He sent His Son” (Gal. 4:4-Living). . . . And when Jesus came to earth, He did not just go around doing whatever He felt was good. Even though His mind was perfectly pure, yet He never acted on any bright idea that came to mind. No. He made His mind a servant of the Holy Spirit.2
Today there are those who seemingly serve the Lord. They do great things and have such apparently great ministries, but the Lord has nothing to do with it.
Jesus spoke of these people in Matthew 7:22–23 (NLT)—“On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.’ ”
What can we learn from this?
I know for our movement, there are so many opportunities and challenges we face. There are students to train, leaders to raise up, missionaries to send out. We need to get the job done. There is tremendous opportunity. The list of things to do is so long, the need urgent and the door wide open.
But we must make sure to follow our Example. “There were many good things that Jesus could have done, that He never did, because they were outside the scope of His Father’s will for Him. He was always busy doing the very best things. And those were enough. He had not come to earth to do good things, but to do the will of His Father.”3
It is wonderful that we move forward as best we can to accomplish whatever job the Lord has called us to do. It is good to be driven and focused and moving full speed ahead. We cannot be slothful. Christ was never lazy or slothful. Neither were His disciples.
But the key question is this: When it is all said and done, can we say like Christ did to His Father, “Father, thank You for the students You gave us. Father, thank You for the staff You recruited. Thank You for the missionaries You sent out and the leaders You raised up. It is You who gave all these to us, and this work is the work You gave us to do.”
When we enter into this kind of striveless serving, doing simply what He has given us to do, our lives and ministry change. All the murmuring and complaining that come with trying to make things happen cease. There is no scratching your head, pulling out your hair and going nights without sleep, wondering what is going to happen and how the need will be met.
Because the work is not dependent on your plans, your meetings or your efforts. You simply allow the Lord to live through you. You enter His rest.
When we serve Him like this, we are able to endure the hardest days and the most painful seasons of life, because it is Christ living in us and He is the One doing the work through us. Our attitude remains one of trust and love, and we are able to say, “Lord, thank You for the privilege You gave me to serve You. I am grateful.”
© 2004 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.