Apr 11, 2017

Hunger vs. Ambition

Our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ is not faithfulness—the method is faithfulness—but to be fruitful. In Jesus’ parable about the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), it is fruitfulness that garners affirmation from the Master. For even the servant who buried his talent was faithful in protecting the investment. It is just that he did not steward its growth.

A life of faithfulness without fruitfulness is, in other words, a passive existence. Jesus calls his disciples, therefore, to a life of hunger. Hunger is “a craving or urgent need for [something]” (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). It is about being hungry for more of God, pressing further into the center of His presence. Pressing more into him, we become more fruitful.

What does it mean to be fruitful in following Jesus? To begin with, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Faithfulness in the presence of God begets fruitfulness—connecting not only with Him, but with other people through His Spirit—which in turn begets more faithfulness.

Hunger is not to be confused with ambition, however. Ambition is defined as “an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power; desire to achieve a particular end; a desire for activity or exertion” (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary), which often is about circumnavigating the presence of God in an aim for acclaimed productivity. For example, when leadership only measures its church’s growth or the effectiveness of its ministry techniques quantitatively, which is also an exercise that tempts ego, there is a great risk of neglecting God as the compass—not to mention overlooking the more mysterious, subjective, and qualitative wonders of human relationship (i.e. spiritual fruit).

The journey of Jesus Christ’s disciples and Church, therefore, must principally be to press ever further into the heart of God. Hunger looks to engage in relationship, in presence, in encounter—faithfulness. But pursing the presence of God is only the first part of the story. It must lead to fruitfulness to find wholeness. Relationship with God must lead to relationship with others, ripe with all the blessings that Paul addresses in Galatians 5:22-23. For when that happens, life brightens like a sunrise with renewed purpose and beauty.

Soli deo gloria. Amen.

Inspired by Andy Robinson's sermon, “Called to Fruitfulness” (Kings Church Horsham, 9 April, 2017).

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