I just started reading the book of Ezekiel (as you can tell by My One Sentence Bible from today) on my yearly trek to read the Bible from cover to cover. To me, the overarching principles of the book of Ezekiel speak loud and clear about what it means to live a faithful Christian life—to God, to yourself and to the life you have been put here on earth to live. The more I continue to live my life and deepen my walk with God the more I am realizing that faithfulness, no matter what the outcome, is the only way to live as close to God as possible. One of my favorite slogans recently is:
God doesn’t only work when we know what the outcome is going to be.
And the beginning of the book of Ezekiel clearly contextualizes exactly what that statement means. Four times within the first 25 verses in Chapters 2-3 the Lord says to Ezekiel:
“Whether they listen or fail to listen.”
This is showing us that the outcome is not dependent upon the messenger.I speak often about knowing our Kingdom Job Description—It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love. The messenger’s job is faithfulness to what the Lord has asked. This is the reason why I believe that a faithful Christian walk is about ‘living in relation to someone else’ and/or ‘living in relationship with someone else’ – No matter what the outcome a faithful servant has acted as a faithful servant toward what God has laid forth, not acting toward a desired outcome that has tried to be obtained. As the old saying goes, you can only control what you can control. It is so true, yet has become so cliché because our Christian culture has mixed up the understanding and expectations of what we actually can control. Let me be very clear on this,
Someone else’s outcome is not something we can control. Any other thought than that is not biblical.
God never said: It’s your job to convict, your job to judge and God’s job to love. And yet that is exactly what today’s Christian feel is their Kingdom Job Description.
God also never said:
I am sending you to a nation that is rebellious, obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, This is what the Sovereign Lord says, you will convince them they are rebellious and because they listen to you they will turn away from their evil ways. You will speak and they will listen.
Nope. Never happened. In fact, God’s commands for a ‘faithful engagement of communication’ are the exact opposite:
Such is the same experience for any prophet throughout Scripture. And in some way, all believers today are prophets because through faith in God through Jesus Christ we have inherited the right to live a faithful Christian life in relation to, and relationship with others. Culture today looks too much toward the action hero (biblical or otherwise) as a model of faithfulness because they are the successful ones who accomplish (or win) desired outcomes. That paradigm is backwards.
What God created as the normal trend for a Christian life is today looked at as countercultural. Strange how that works.
Ezekiel is one of the boldest people recorded in all of Scripture. Even though God told him in detail the horrific tortures he will have to endure for no other reason than repeating what God spoke, Ezekiel never acts as a martyr (as so many Christians do today in “speaking the truth”), but incarnationally lives within a people faithfully focused on his Kingdom Job Description, whether they listen or fail to listen.
This is my understanding of New Evangelism—which in actuality is only ‘new’ because the original understanding has been lost in power-hungry, outcome driven generations of Christians trying to take credit for what is not of any of their power or ownership. By today’s standards God set up Ezekiel for failure, giving him an unfairly porportioned hard life with no way out of the murderous ending set forth. And yet because Ezekiel faithfully showed us what faithfulness to God’s call means, today’s standards of understanding evangelism and faithfulness once again prove to be wrong.