How to be the Hands & Feet of God
I love to learn.
If continuing education was free, and test taking wasn’t a requirement, I think I would be in college forever. This drive has created a less-than productive habit of reading several books simultaneously; one before bed, one on audible in the car as I shuttle the kids around, and at least one other book for stolen moments throughout the day. One of the current books in the rotation is In the Likeness of God by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. This book not only talks about the miraculous way that God has knit our physical and spiritual beings together, but it also intricately portrays how the human body is connected to the body of Christ.
Check this out…. Did you know that every cell in the body contains the full blueprint of any job that a cell could do? It has all of the information it needs to be any other cell in the body. But upon coming to life and becoming a body, every cell makes a choice to sacrifice the access to all of the knowledge it’s been given to become what it’s supposed to be. It makes this decision and choice so that the body can function properly as a unit.
Let’s take a skin cell for example. At it’s inception, a skin cell can be any cell in the human body it wants to be, but it has to sacrifice all of the knowledge and information it has, to become the skin cell it’s supposed to be. And when it does this, it’s happy because it becomes a contributing part of the whole body functioning as a unit. And that’s enough for it. It rocks at being a skin cell, and stops even thinking about being a neuron cell- or whatever other type of cell that it once envied.
The whole body is necessary for God’s glory to be revealed. And if there are cells that decide to mutate and run from what they’re supposed to be, they become our sickness. They become toxic, and they become cancer.
As the cells are to the body, we are to the body of Christ. God has taken such care to create us with our story, our talents, our gifts, and our insufficiencies, and He needs all of us- living lives that completely fulfilling our God-given purpose, to bring Him glory.
If we deviate from what we are made to be or look like, then the body as a whole is not longer a functioning unit, and the things that need to get done to help the vulnerable, broken and hurt don’t get accomplished.
When we fight for something we think we’re supposed to be, and stop functioning as we were created to be, it causes us to be toxic to the body. We don’t just handicap the Body of Christ, we make it sick.
We also leave ourselves with a hallowed out sense of purpose and an ache to make a difference that will never be filled until we get back on track to being the person God created us to be. He will use us if we let Him.
I recently had coffee with a friend and she told me of her struggle with discouragement as she tried to apply her gifts and talents to further the Kingdom of God. She felt like every time she started to dream and take action on the passion of her spirit, she would quickly notice that something similar was already being done.
How quickly the evil one sneaks in to derail us from our fruitful path.
My friend’s feelings of discouragement and resistance aren’t uncommon. In fact, I would wager to say that if you don’t encounter a few demons on your path, then you are probably going the wrong way! But, knowing this doesn’t make it easier, and it doesn’t make the fight go away.
Take comfort in this:
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would less because of that missing drop.” ~ Mother Theresa
The body of Christ is bigger than the ocean, and if one drop goes missing, the body would certainly be less.
We get to choose. We get to choose to answer the call that God has placed on our lives, and align our heart’s desires with His plan, - or we stand in our pride and attempt to control our lives- picking and choosing the stories, resources and God-given spiritual gifts that we’ll share with others.
God has already written our stories, and we have access to that plan and purpose. But, we have to sit with God and get crystal clear on how we are to serve and love while we are on this earth.
We have to have a daily willingness to offer ourselves to be prepared- regardless of the method God chooses to prepare us.
We have to ask:
1. Am I in the battles I should be in,
2. Am I in the community I am to serve in,
3. Am I on the path that I should take?
And then we set back and we watch what God does with our story. Not the cleaned up, Cliff notes version of our story either. The good, the bad, the ugly- God ordained it all and He will use ALL of our stories to be the Hands and Feet of God to others.
God creates us with both sufficiency and insufficiency-
“Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows." ~ James 1:17 (The Voice)
And the Gifts of the Spirit are not only the gifts that look good, they are the gifts that are designed to draw OUT good. They conform us to His likeness.
The good news is that God will prepare and call us to be used in the body of Christ.
Our role in this, is to simmer in the essence of the process. We are to surrender to God’s work in our lives and to listen & immediately obey.
I’d like to turn to a couple of elements of construction to give us a picture of the work that God does in us.
In Amos 7:7-9 we learn about a plumb line. A plumb line is an instrument that finds the true vertical of a structure. And in Amos 7, God showed Amos a vision of Him holding a plumb line.
God said that “He had hung a plumb line in the midst of the people of Israel.”
He was showing them the straightest way to life as well as the most direct path into a relationship with Him.
Plumb lines are still used today to find the true vertical, or height, of a structure. In the olden days, plumb lines had a huge iron weight at the end of it that would also be used to crash onto the ground to break open the crust of the earth to test for deep water.
In Proverbs 20:5 it says that, “Real motives come from deep within a person- as from deep waters- but a man of wisdom draws them out.”
We, through Christ have the chance to be rebuilt, reconstructed, expanded into a season of greater- true to the plumb line- and straight into His truest purposes and design for our lives.
Only Christ can heal the deepest waters of our hearts where the process of clarification and development occur.
God tends to the height and depth of our character development so we can be used effectively as His hands and feet.
This process is often quite unsettling. It causes your foundation to be shook. When you open your hand and say, “God, show me, me!”, The person you thought you were and the gifts that you thought that you just had to share with EVERYONE and EVERYWHERE tend to be redefined.
Suddenly, your spiritual foundation starts to be rocked. Everything starts to feel unstable- but you know that God’s hand is in this transition. After all… you were the one who asked God to show you who you really are, and what you are supposed to be used for in the body of Christ.
I find this quote by Cynthia Occelli to be comforting and quite relevant to the process of growth that the Lord does in our lives to prepare us to walk out our God-given destiny. She says,
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, it’s insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
I’m thankful that we have a King and High Priest who understands everything about growth. He’s the author of our change, and He is faithful and trustworthy in this process.
This shakeup in our own spiritual foundation also makes me think of the underpinning process of a building. In construction, underpinning is the process of strengthening the foundation of an existing building or other structure. Underpinning can be accomplished by extending the foundation in depth or in breadth so it either rest on a more supportive soil, or so that it’s load is distributed across a greater area.
What’s most interesting to me is WHY a building would need to be underpinned.
1. The original foundation is simply not strong or stable enough,
2. The usage of the structure has changed.
3. To increase the depth or load capacity of the existing foundation to support the addition of another story to the building.
Do you see yourself in any of these areas? Is God calling you into a season of greater? Is He making known to you the gifts and talents that He has given you? Is He asking you to grow deeper or expand wider in your relationship with Him?
Then trust and expect for Him to prepare and underpin you. Expect Him to grow your character and draw out the deep waters of your heart, and THEN you will find yourself being actively utilized as God’s hands and feet.
The tension that this process creates is unavoidable. In fact, the closer we get to Christ, the more tension there is. But it’s important to remember that we are held in this dynamic relationship by the Lord.
It’s OK for us to sit in the tension of our growth.
Jesus did it through love. Love kept him pinned to the cross as He endured the tension between heaven and earth, the old and new covenant, human life and the sinless sacrifice for mankind’s sins. And we do it through our faith in Christ.
If you want to be intimate with Christ you will be strung tightly-perfectly, but tightly. Like a fine-tuned guitar string, we are perfectly tuned with ideal tension. We just have to recognize that we’re God’s instrument and allow for our own, perfectly unique song to be played. That’s how we become His hands and feet.