Weapons of Mass Construction
Dr. Jim Denison
Last Sunday morning, Dr. John Plotts announced this weekend’s events in a way which I have borrowed today. He referenced the war in Iraq, then showed that we are in a spiritual war in Dallas. In Iraq we are fighting to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction. In Dallas, he said, we are fighting to use “weapons of mass construction.”
Let’s learn the truth of those words today.
The big question
The point of our story is simple: if we love Jesus, we will serve him.
Peter had denied Jesus three times on the night of his arrest. Now Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. To each question Peter replies honestly: “Lord, you know all things—you know that I love you.”
Jesus didn’t ask if Peter was sorry, or if he would promise not to fail again. He asked not for vows or conduct but for his heart, because he knows that when he has the heart he has everything. And Peter gave it to him.
Then Jesus called him in response to “feed my sheep.” He called him to service. He ordained him to ministry. And Peter would fulfill this service for the rest of his life. Because Peter loved Jesus, he served him. And the rest is history.
Now the same Lord asks us the same question: do we love him? Do we love Jesus today? If we do, we will serve him. We will find and use our spiritual gifts. We will become weapons of mass construction.
If we do not, it will be for one of two reasons.
Our “ministry discovery” weekend has two enemies. One I call “words-righteousness,” the other “works-righteousness.” “Words-righteousness” is the spiritual malady, all too common for evangelicals, which assumes that our words of faith are enough for God. So long as we pray a salvation prayer, say the right words, know the right language, we’ve done all that God expects of us.
I prayed such a prayer on September 9, 1973, in the living room of the Holmes’ house, down Beechnut Street from College Park Baptist Church in southwest Houston. I asked Jesus Christ to forgive my sins and come into my life as my Lord. When I prayed that prayer I was “saved,” or “born again.” I “became a Christian.” Most of you have had a similar experience; I hope you will all trust Christ as your Savior in this way.
There is nothing else I must do to earn my salvation, and no way I can lose it. I am the child of God, and will be with in him heaven forever.
So why is ministry discovery vital to my life? Why must I find my spiritual gifts and use them as “weapons of mass construction”?
Such a lifestyle is wonderful for those who choose it, of course. They will have great reward in heaven for their commitment.
But unless ministry discovery is vital to my existence now, central to my life today, it remains an option to consider, an “extra” to add to my already-busy life, going the second mile when the first mile is hard enough.
I have “words-righteousness,” and that’s enough for now. Maybe I’ll get more involved in ministry later, when I have more time. But not today.
The other opponent of our “ministry discovery” weekend is works-righteousness. Working as hard as we possibly can so we will be people of worth and value. Words-righteousness makes ministry discovery unnecessary, since we’re already going to heaven; works-righteousness keeps us so busy it is impossible.
Works-righteousness especially appeals to high performance people—those of us who measure our worth by our works, our accomplishments and grades and salaries and possessions. We are what we do. And nothing is ever enough—there is always the next business deal to close, the next semester’s dean’s list to make, the next season’s victories to win, the next person to impress. The next sermon to preach, or devotional to write.
We are busy, but for the wrong reasons. We serve so we will be people of worth, instead of serving because we already are. We work to be righteous, instead of working because we already are. We even become involved in ministry so that God will accept us, instead of serving because he already has.
And so we are so committed and busy that we cannot imagine doing anything else. There isn’t enough time for the work we have already.
Discovering our ministry
To both of us, those caught by words-righteousness and by works-righteousness, Jesus has a word today. To the first, he asks with Peter, “Do you love me?”
We say, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” If words-righteousness were enough, the text would end. Peter has prayed his salvation prayer, he is “saved,” he has spoken the right words.
But no. Jesus continues: “Then feed my sheep.” Serve my kingdom. Do your job. Use your gifts. Fulfill your calling. In essence he says, If you truly love me, you will serve me. Not because you must, but because you will. Not because works save, but because the saved work.
We owned a peach tree in Midland. We knew, because it produced peaches. It couldn’t help it—bearing such fruit was simply its nature. If it had not borne peaches, no matter how much it looked like a peach tree it would not have been one. A fruit tree bears fruit.
It is the same with our love for any person. I can say that I love our boys, but if I did nothing to serve them you would say that my love was not real. If I would not care for them, work hard for their future, provide for their needs, spend time with them, enjoy them, my words would be empty and false. My works do not prove my love, they express it. They are not love, but its fruit. They are the natural, inevitable result of a heart which loves.