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God is not a user

Sincere disciples of the Jesus often pray, “Lord use me, please use me.” The intention is
honest – they want to be useful, to serve, to make a difference, and to extend the
Kingdom of God. However, the particular choice of words reveals something seriously
amiss.

Generals use troops to attack enemy positions, often with massive loss of life. In biblical
times, rich men used slaves for their pleasure and profit. Morally corrupt, or desperate,
mothers use their little children to beg at intersections. But God does not use His
children!

In Old Testament times God occasionally used pagan kings to achieve His ends (Isa
7:20). Once He used a great fish, a vine, and a worm (Jonah). He even used a donkey
(Numbers 22:28). But He never used His children! Jesus used language (John 10:6 16:25)
and He taught us to use our worldly wealth (Luke 16:9). But He never used His disciples!

Those who are born again of the Spirit, who are disciples of Jesus, are sons not slaves
(Galatians 4:7). We are children of God. We are sons who serve, not servants who
pretend to be sons. (Ladies, for ‘sons’ please read ‘daughters’). Listen to this; ‘How great
is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And
that is what we are!’ (1 John 3:1). We are children of God, not tools God uses to achieve
His grand purposes. We are sons and daughters of the Most High, not dispensable ‘canon
fodder’ in some cosmic conflict between good and evil.

How we understand our relationship to God has a profound effect on our theology and on
the way we live. As His children, God has one overarching purpose for our lives – that
we come to know Jesus, grow to be like Him, and help others to do likewise. To achieve
this, God draws us into a co-operative relationship. He allows us to work with Him, to
speak for Him, and to minister in His name and power. As we obediently co-operate, we
grow and mature, from glory to glory - ‘And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the
Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which
comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Theologically, this understanding sheds light on issues such as God’s sovereignty versus
man’s freedom to choose - God sovereignly grants us a meaningful degree of discretion
so that we can mature as His children. It also helps us understand how the scriptures can
be both divinely inspired and humanly produced. - God worked with human authors to
produce what He wanted recorded for our growth and guidance.

At an entirely practical level, our understanding of our relationship to God makes a major
difference to how we live. “God use me” implies a lack of responsibility and
accountability, because if God chooses not to use me, then so be it, it’s not my fault.
However, if God allows me into a co-operative venture with Himself, then I have a part
to play, no matter how small.
God’s co-operation with us also sets a powerful example for us to follow. If God uses
people then so should we! But, if God co-operates with us for our growth, then so should
we co-operate with others for their growth. How many marriages have collapsed because
husbands try to use their wives?! How many children grow into dysfunctional adulthood
because parents try to use them for their own ambitions, pleasures, or vicarious
achievements?!

Think too of the effect on church leadership. Elders are supposed to emulate Christ and
grow His people. Pastors do not own churches, nor should they use churches to further
their goals. Pastors should follow the example of Jesus, and give of themselves so that the
church members can become more like the one they follow… Jesus!

So, “Lord, please use me” is probably not what we should pray. Rather pray; “Lord help
me to follow you. Help me to serve others in your name. Give me ears to hear and eyes to
see, a mind that seeks after you, and a heart of love for you and your children. Lord, help
me please to be more like Jesus. Amen.”