It’s anybody’s guess whether or not my ice maker is going to make ice. The anticipation builds every time I place my glass under the dispenser. Will it work as intended today?
You see, I loooove ice. A glass full of ice with soda is a highlight of my day (yes, I know, gross). And my ice maker sometimes obliges, but other times it just grinds and grinds and nothing comes out. Opening the freezer door reveals a completely empty ice compartment. For some reason, it isn’t making ice cubes, and I’ve gone through the entire reserve.
Sure, I could make my own ice in ice cube trays- and I do now that my ice maker has become so finicky. But that’s just not nearly as satisfying for some reason. The ice isn’t quite the right shape. I always spill a little bit of the water on my trip from the sink to the freezer when refilling them. Frankly, I’m a little bit lazy.
I want my ice the right way without any effort on my part. I want my ice maker to work as it was designed to (daggonit).
You might be wondering why I’m writing about my ice maker. You might also be wondering how a person can go on so much about such a dumb topic. (Trust me: there’s more where that came from! I could probably write quite a bit more about my love of ice, but for your sake, I won’t.)
You see, what I want to focus on is the ice maker’s function as designed. Some engineer thought about the various mechanisms involved in forming ice and getting it into my glass. Sure, she knew I could get ice another way (fill my own tray, buy from the store), but she wanted her ice maker to be the method through which my glass was filled.
As I visited my ice maker earlier today, I thought about the lessons I could learn from it. Lessons about functioning as I was created to as a child of God and the things I would do if I functioned as I was designed to. Because, sure, our God is the God of the universe. He could find myriad other ways to accomplish his goals, but he’s chosen me. He wants me to be the method through which his plan is accomplished.
Romans 12 provides some great biblical context for this thinking.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your a faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Functioning as We were Designed to within the Church
Did you catch verse 5 where it says, “in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (emphasis mine)? Our gifts- our functioning as we were designed to- are for the benefit of the body. The verse goes so far as to say that we actually belong to the other members.
This mindset perhaps helps us understand the end of Acts 2, where the first believers “had everything in common”, sharing their belongings and meals so that none went without. Acts 2 goes on to say that the early church added to their number daily because of their love. I know we’ve all heard that a million times, but let’s just really think about it for a minute. They loved each other in such an obvious way that it garnered attention from those around them.
Life in the Roman Empire was harsh. Think Gladiators. Think desperate and poor parents abandoning their newborns and selling their children as slaves. Think very cruel public executions. What must the love shown by the early church have looked like to those around them? While society discarded others as without value, the early church sold their possessions to provide for the poor amongst themselves. That alone must have been shocking to their neighbors.
They also spent significant amounts of time together, meeting daily to worship, and enjoying joyful meals together. And they saw- and participated in- God moving in their midst in supernatural ways.
The early church epitomized lives completely transformed by the love of Jesus and the influence of the Holy Spirit.
But let’s not pretend that the early church was full of perfect people. They were real people, just like us, with personality flaws, broken pasts, and annoying traits. Yet they sincerely loved each other in spite of and through these things.
I wonder if that was actually what most impressed those around them? Whereas our natural tendency is to gravitate towards the few, these people included all.
Christ had loved them so perfectly and completely; how could they exclude others or harbor resentment? By that same token, how can we?
What a difficult thing this must have been for them. It certainly is hard for me! But if we can love others- ALL others- wouldn’t that show that our love is being supernaturally empowered and not just something of our own creation?
Does the way we love other believers inspire the unsaved around us?
Do we collectively show that we’ve been transformed by the Gospel? How often do we go without to ensure our Brothers’ and Sisters’ needs are met? How often do we get together for fellowship because we genuinely love being together with other believers? Do we break bread in our homes with the Church as the Acts 2 believers did? Do we pursue connection literally daily as the early church did? Or does busyness and the pressure to keep up with our society prevent us from doing so?
Functioning as We were Designed to in the World
If we functioned today as the church was created to when it comes to loving those who are not yet Christians, what might our influence be? So often now, instead of living such that “they’ll know we’re Christians by our love”, American Christianity looks more like, “they’ll know we’re Christians by our political posts on social media.” Or, “they’ll know we’re Christians by our boycotts.” As the Casting Crowns song so eloquently states:
“Nobody knows what we’re for, only what we’re against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs, crossed over the lines, and loved like You did?”
Of course, there are pockets of Christians demonstrating Christ’s love in real and tangible ways, but we should each pause and take stock of how we express our faith. Do we look kind and loving in a cruel world, or do we look like we’re the ones bringing the cruelty? I am not saying we should embrace sin. Jesus certainly never did. But he didn’t view the sinner as something to be despised or mocked.
Jesus was always honest with people. He didn’t gloss over sin, but he was so genuine and loving that people were drawn to him.
Have you ever met a believer like that? They can break your heart to your own sin with such kindness that you just love them all the more for it. It’s been such a rare thing in my life and experience, but it is real. These people embody Romans 12:9. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
What is preventing me from living and loving in such a way? What is preventing you? Is it pride and arrogance? Plain old annoyance? Do I get too focused on how others’ sin negatively impacts me, forgetting that their sin evidences their need for healing? By the same token, do I overlook my own sin and its impact on others? Am I content to hurt a few along the way because they hurt me, too, or aren’t among the “important ones” that I’m trying to impress?
Ouch. These questions cut deep. But aren’t they important to really think about if we want to live according to our Designer’s intentions? It’s so important that we pray, as David did, for God to search our hearts and our intentions and reveal to us ways we’re operating outside of his design and expectation.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalm 139:23-24
In order to function in the world as God created us to, we must carefully inspect our hearts and reflect upon our motivations, even if it feels uncomfortable to do so.
I suspect that the more often we do this with complete honesty, the easier it will become. We’ll hopefully begin to really internalize the idea that God doesn’t turn his back on us because of our sin. Whereas a person might judge us harshly for our hidden thoughts and motivations, God doesn’t. He already knows them. Speaking to him openly about our sin doesn’t push him away from us; it actually brings us closer to him as we rest in the total security of his love and acceptance.
Final Thoughts about Our Design
Just like the engineer who designed my ice maker knows that I could get my ice in a variety of other ways, God is clearly capable of getting the job done any way he wants. But he chose me. He chose you.
I’m reminded of a theme I keep encountering in Christian writing. The idea is simple: Every believer is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do supernatural things, but we act as if only a few can. The few serve at church, in the world, or as missionaries, and we watch them go and cheer them on, thinking we’re not as gifted or needed as they are. But every believer has the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead living inside himself. Every believer is called to do good works for God’s glory. Every believer has an important role to play.
Romans 12:6-8 speaks really well to this.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your a faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
We must each play our part, using the gifts God has given us to benefit those around us. When I function as I was designed to, I don’t hide away and let others do the work God has for me. I’m not talking about laziness here. I’m talking about insecurity. Do I fail to act in ways God is calling me to because I don’t think I can do it well enough? Am I too embarrassed to try? Does shame hold me back?
When I have this mindset, I overlook a really important fact: it is the Holy Spirit who empowers me. I don’t empower myself. The God of the universe who is capable of doing literally anything he wants to, wants me and will give me exactly what I need the moment I need it so that I can fulfill his plans. The same is true for you.
What a privilege it is to be called as one of God’s own! He has given us the Holy Spirit as a seal, showing that we belong to him. And in his wisdom and grace, he’s chosen to use us as his agents of change in the world. When we function as he created us to- individually and collectively- we can literally change the world, much like the early church did.
As believers, when we function as we were created to, the world notices.
Interested in More Devotions for Educators?
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