Sunday, September 9, 2012

invisible

It is a classic question, one that is asked often in numerous places and contexts.  And why not, it's fun.  If you could have any superpower what would it be?  From my experience, the hands down leader will always be to be able to fly.  I mean, who wouldn't want that one, right?  Or superhuman strength, or speed?  But every now and then you hear someone say, I'd like to be able to be invisible.  And when those words are said it starts all of our collective wheels turning, imagining what it would be like to go about, for a time at least, unseen.  Inevitably, however, when we are really pressed, we all have to admit that the reason for wanting to be invisible is so we can do things without getting caught.  But what if the reason for wanting to be invisible had to do with being able to do good things, even great things, without anyone ever knowing about it.  That would be impressive wouldn't it?  But it might be far too noble a quest for most of us, especially me.
     I do, however, have a growing suspicion that striving to be invisible has enormous value in the spiritual life.  Look no further than the life of Jesus for your body of evidence.  For thirty of his thirty-three years he was in utter obscurity, with almost no information given about the content or composition of his life during that time: slow, hidden, quiet, small...invisible.  Just the way you would expect God to enter the world, right?  Why in the world would he do that?  One thing you can be sure of, it was the thirty years of obscurity that prepared him for the three years of public ministry.  Never was one, it would seem, so reluctant to occupy the spotlight.  And something deep within me really likes that; something deep within me senses the rightness and goodness of that.  And when he does finally arrive on the scene, what is the first miracle he performs, and how does he do it?  He turns water into wine at the wedding of some dear friends, with only a couple of the people (and most likely not even the bride or groom) ever being aware of what really happened.  And how often did Jesus tell someone he had just healed not to tell anyone?  I mean, who does that?  Don't we all want everyone to know when do something  extraordinary or noble; or compassionate or heroic?   Many would say his secrecy was because of something called the Messianic Secret; he was trying to keep everything a secret so that his time wouldn't come faster than it was intended to.  And while there might be some truth to that theory, I have to believe it was much more about something that was lodged deeply within his soul and Spirit; the same thing that led him to empty himself and make himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (Philippians 2:7).  There seems to be something deep within the heart of God that loves the hidden, the small, the empty, the nothing, the invisible; something deep within Him that is actually drawn to it.  Therefore, if I am to grow in my likeness to Him, as my attitude becomes the same as that of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), the same should be becoming true of me.
     I have a conviction growing within me that the best ministry to be done, is that done in invisibility.  The fruitfulness of such a ministry just seems to be endless, both within the minster and the ministee.  When I am content with being invisible, or better yet even seeking it out, it seems to create the most fertile soil possible for the Spirit to do His work without me getting in the way trying to do mine.  Therefore, these days if someone were to ask what my deepest hopes for Core Leadership (or for Jim Branch) are, high on my list would be, "I hope that it is invisible."  I hope that we are going about (and deeply involved in) God's work, but that no one, other than God himself, is ever really fully aware of all that is going on.

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