Like any other belief system the Christian faith can get pretty complex for such a simple premise i.e. relationship with Jesus Christ, and hence redemption in the Father, through the forgiveness of sins. So it can help in boiling down all the complexity so we can know simply how to achieve God’s will. For surely when we get down to brass tacks this is what it’s all about.
I see it that any proper Christian, serious about fully engaging in their committed journey of discipleship ought to do these two things, one positive, the other negative; both are equally important and powerful for God.
We ought to be facilitators and sifters:
The word means “to make easier... [to] help bring about,” and that is in essence what we’re about, walking in Christ. Servant-heartedness is a throbbing core woven right throughout the gospels, letters and beyond through the biblical canon.
One of my favourite roles in the workplace is facilitator because it means I have the role to ensure a meeting, discussion or workshop runs smoothly, that all objectives and deliverables are met, on time, on budget. It’s the chance to serve some pretty elite sort of company by means of paradoxical spiritual leadership.
Even to cleaning up the venue and drafting prompt notes on proceedings, the idea is to inspire the very best result at all levels. It’s about doing the little things so well that people leave the session uplifted with how well it ran.
The Christian has this opportunity and responsibility. We’re lights of the world bringing glory to God, creating occasions where people might ask “why,” i.e. why do we perceive the needs so well... it’s so if they got to know us they’d find out it’s because Jesus, our Saviour, has crushed the pulsating flesh-need in us.
We can faithfully serve him (and others) knowing that he alone fills our cups. The better we serve others the more he fills our cup; it’s a pretty simple formula. There is surely nothing as inspiring as someone who’ll give up their rights, needs (and even life itself) for another. The facilitator does this, and with enthusiastic willingness to burn!
This is a difficult and contrary role which comes easier to some than to others. It requires a special measure of courage at steadfastness, a dedication to truth, and the sharp ability of Christian discernment.
The LORD said to Gideon in Judges 7 that he would “sift” the men as they drank the water. And again in Amos 9:9, the LORD talks about “shaking the house of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve.” This theology is graphically foretold in the imagery of Daniel, for instance, 11:32-35.
To sift is to test. It’s to reserve judgment in the face of God. It’s to wait and see, but also to act, on the motives--of ourselves and others.
I see it that sifting is being so loyal to God that it is to do his will no matter the relationship we have with the people concerned in this life. It is also to be ruthless about our own journey with God, forever willing to repent.
This is one reason I think why Jesus said this:
“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” –Luke 12:51-53 (NIV)
Jesus did not say ‘war against each other for the sake of it,’ but ‘do the Father’s will.’ At times we’ll not be able to do the Father’s will unless we transgress another or bring them to account, in God’s holy name. This must be done with discernment and skilfully so; so as to not be excessively offensive i.e. it is to be respectfully challenging where we have a relational context to work within, meaning some level of existing rapport is its basis.
Sifting for me is cooperating with God--it’s being a fully-engaged agent of God. Most Christians have difficulty with occasionally being agents for Satan. They see that they must be-friend everyone and ‘be loving’ at all costs. They perhaps don’t realise that playing the sifting role of keeping people quietly accountable, as we’re to be kept to account, is actually loving people properly i.e. in a disciplined way, out of reverence to God.
 “facilitate.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 15 August 2009. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/facilitate