What’s important


By Tom Wiles | For The Times-Post

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. — I Corinthians 3:1-23

Living in the Midwest’s corn and soybean belt, it’s incredible to see the vast acres of crops reaching their maturity in late summer and early fall.

Extra caution is warranted driving the country roads among all the soaring stalks in the cornfields. It truly does feel like they just spring up overnight.

Walking past a field in the evening or driving slowly with the window down, you can literally hear the crackle and pop of growing plants. Amazing.

Paul uses this farming imagery to help the church he’s writing to understand the proper perspective on the roles of people and the role of God in their lives.

After having allowed their church to devolve into a divisive popularity contest, Paul had to confront their worldly immaturity.

God enables some people to introduce people to Jesus and others to help them grow in their relationship with him. God, however, is the one who establishes the relationship and who makes it grow.

God’s the big deal.

He does all the heavy lifting.

Jesus said it this way in John 15, “I am the vine, you are the branches…Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

Our over-inflated egos have a really hard time embracing this truth.

We want so badly to be the big deal or at least to be in the inner circle of someone who we think is the big deal like the church Paul was writing to.

Oh, to be mature enough to simply be lost in the wonder of knowing and being known by God.

Great mercy

But in your great mercy, you did not destroy them completely or abandon them forever. What a gracious and merciful God you are! — Nehemiah 9:1-38

It was quite a scene actually.

The flashing lights of the police cars.

An ambulance which was thankfully not needed.

One car at a stop sign with its front left side smashed in.

Another car in the main road with its hood up, front end smashed and steam coming from its engine.

Another car smashed in on both sides of the back end driven by a teenager who had failed to yield the right of way.

When my dad arrived, there wasn’t any of the anger I expected. Only mercy. Thank God.

As the leaders of the returned exiles of Israel prayed to God recounting hundreds of years of history of God working with his people, they observed a startling truth.

Even in God’s discipline and the terrible suffering of his people as a result, God had shown them great mercy. Amazingly, they praised him in the midst of their pain.

Why? God had not completely destroyed them nor did he abandon them forever. Their sin was great, but his grace was greater. Thank God.

This story sounds oddly familiar, doesn’t it?

He told us how to live in the world he had made.

We had better ideas, so we thought.

After all, how could something that feels so right be so wrong?

Living lives in direct conflict with how God made things to work has resulted in all the ugly we see, hear and experience today.

Mercifully, there’s still hope.

Jesus paid the price for all our great ideas.

He prepared the path of life upon which we can walk with him. Thank God.

No use

While he was still speaking to her, a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the teacher now.” But when Jesus had heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” — Luke 8:40-56

Dumbfounded, my wife and I watched the true movie scene unfold.

After an unlikely rescue, John Smith was rushed to the emergency room where he was declared dead for 45 minutes.

His mother arrived, ran to his corpse and began wailing out to God for his life to return.

Every medical team member watching had that “it’s no use” look on their face until the beep returned to the still-attached heart monitor.

Surely Jairus’ knees buckled when word of his daughter’s passing reached him.

Jesus heard and locked eyes with him. He spoke courage and strength into the man.

Jairus managed to make the trip home buoyed only by the presence of Jesus, the one to whom he had run in desperation.

They arrived, and Jesus, with a touch and a word, raised her to life and returned her to her parents’ aching arms.

I don’t know how to answer your question.

Why them and not (fill in the blank)?

The mysteries surrounding the eternal piercing the temporary will remain for you and me.

As will the truth that crying out to Jesus is never in the category of being of “no use” – just ask John’s mom or Jairus.

Our faith inspires the cry.

His will determines the outcome.

So, what’s it going to be? Will Jesus hear our cries today?

Tom Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.

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