On August 9th, the mini retreat held at the Europe Olivet Center in the United Kingdom was concluded with the Sunday service. Pastor Andrew Clark delivered a message from 1 Corinthians 3:4-9, titled “Only God Who Makes Things Grow”.
The creation of God is the world of love. It cannot be one-sided, and it cannot be forced. But true love must flow in both-directions, and must be a co-working from both sides. We are able to see that God made everything, all of creation, but He left the final thing for humans to complete, so that we could participate in the joy and grace from this world of love.
Apostle Paul has this deep confession about the world of co-working. God did not call us to work by ourselves. He did not send us out into the vineyard alone and leave us to work by ourselves, but He wants to co-work with us, and He never leaves our side or neglects us.
Even in our salvation, God has suffered and sacrificed so much. Jesus endured all the hatred, carried all the sin, and willingly went the path of the cross. But then still, for this salvation to be complete there is something we must do – it is so small but it is so important. The world of love cannot be made one-sided. It’s that we need to accept what Jesus has done for us, that He washed away our sins, and accept Him as our savior. We need to have faith to hold out our hands and receive the unspeakable gift of grace that He is offering to us. What we have to do is so small. Indeed it is negligible compared to what Christ has done for us – but it is essential that we do our side to complete the circle of love with God.
Now those who have received salvation, and whose lives have been changed by His love and grace, are given commission – in a wide aspect we can say we have been called to build an ark of salvation. Through building the ark, Noah came to know the suffering of God, and the heart of God.
How could God endure all this suffering? Of creation, and then again following the Fall and this long history of re-creation and salvation? It is because He is the God of true love. True love is unchanging, and within true love, there is absolute faithfulness. No matter how much man disappoints Him, He keeps enduring and He remains faithful. Even though we are such sinners and don’t deserve anything but His wrath, yet He keeps on embracing us. This is the shocking, unspeakable love of God.
So it is through building the ark, we come to know the deeper heart of God. We come to have a heart of gratitude of what He has already done for us. In the face of creation, the ark is but a speck of dust – what we have to do is so small and negligible, but we are called to work hard and diligently, so that we can come to realize the heart of God, and receive the grace and joy to an even greater extent.
It is the same as the relationship between parents and a child. Young children don’t understand the suffering of the parents and so lack a deep heart of thankfulness. So they grumble to get what they want without a 2nd thought, and they complain when asked to help out to do chores, even though parents will ask them to just help out with the small things. But growing older they come to realize the suffering and heart of their parents. They mature and start to be thankful for the serving and sacrifice of their parents.
Adam lost the thankful heart, and forgot the grace of what had been given to Him in creation. But we must restore this thankful heart to God. As we do the work of God we realize more and more what He has already done for us, and we are humbled at how small our part is. Then we will not easily complain and grumble about the hard work, and the sacrifices we make, but we do so joyfully.
Then we can start to enter the world that Apostle Paul is describing to us. Even when it comes to the small works God has called us to put our hands to, it’s not that He has left us alone by ourselves. But every tiny seed we plant by faith, it’s that God is the one who will make it grow. So we should not only look at the small seed as it is today – something with no impact and negligible. But rather, let us set up strong faith, that through the small seed I plant today, God will be faithful and will make it grow into the biggest tree in the garden. God is the one still doing 99%, but unless we go and plant the small seed there can be no growth, so we need to do our part diligently.
When we have faith and the eyes to see this world, we will not waste time day by day, but we will capture the time and work diligently to plant as many seeds as possible every single day. God will not forget a single seed you plant, just as He does not forget a single prayer you offer up, or a single tear you shed, or even a single drop of sweat spilled working for the Kingdom of God. He remembers everything. So let us store up our treasures in heaven, and entrust all our works to God, that He can allow them to bloom abundantly even more than we can imagine.