In the course of time there are things we say, those things aren’t considered much, people keep saying it, then before you know it, everyone says it and it might not have ever made sense… but we still say it. And we say it a whole lot. What’s at the core of this saying and what is a better understanding?
“I just want to be used by God to…”
First, this statement seems to come when someone is going on a mission trip, moving into a spiritual endeavor where they long to be a part of the Kingdom of God, I get it. But if you think about that statement in light of any other similar use, it’s always a negative. I just want my spouse to use me, I want my friends to use me, I want my boss, coach, teacher to use me. Every instance of that looks bad, sounds like “I would like to be taken advantage of…maybe even exploited”
I look up the word “used” in the bible. The word “used” is used 114 times, but never in the “I want to be used by God” sort of way. Usually in the ” bread used in the Tabernacle” sort of way. As I do a little research online I see all kinds of lists of what you and I need to do to be used by God, chief among them is that you and I need to be Holy.
Second, now I don’t want to argue with the Holiness thing BUT; God used Pharaoh, God used Pilate, God used Nebuchadnezzar, God used Babylon, God used jealous brothers, God even used an ass(Balaams Donkey). If you heard my sermon last week, God used Jonah to preach to 120,000 people. Jonah could be nominated for hardest heart in the Bible. “I knew you were a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” That’s why I never wanted to come here and preach, I knew you would forgive those people… Seems to me that a read of the Bible allows for a wide variety of characters in the category of “used.” If that’s what we want to call it.
My third pet peeve about this statement is it always seems to put us at the center of the story. You were used, because you did something, or the something that was done has something to do with what you did. Now I understand the nature of God’s invitation to us to be the hands, feet, and voice of God to the world around us. There are choices we should make that sometimes we don’t make, so make the choice to be salt and light but maybe we need to always recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from
“Me being used”, the grace of God almighty and the work of his hand. God deserves to be so far in front of the story line any second place finish is forgettable.
So what’s the alternative to “I just want to be used?” How about, I just want to glorify God. “Yes Lord walking in your ways we wait for you, because your name and your renown is the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:8 God has a way of taking care of his will without our help even if we are involved. It’s a nice thing that God invites us in. Like it or not, more things happen in spite of us than because of us. Taking ourselves out of the center of spiritual transactions between others and God is a healthier place to be. Third parties make bad parties.
In light of every other negative connotation about being used, I’d rather just have you be loved by God and joyfully, willingly love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and sometimes do that in front of an audience of 1, 10, or 100 and let people see the radiance and smell the fragrance of Christ.
I think this view of our use, cheapens the work of God in the world, tends to put us in a place of a pat on the back instead of “gloria a Dios.” If God can use an ass, he can use anything. But God is very much in love with you and the way to truly find life is to love Him and others the same way. Be loved…love, celebrate what God does!!