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« The God Who Makes Things Right | Main | Our Never-Changing, Ever-Changing God »

The Middleman

peanuts.jpg “We pray you in Christ’s stead.” II Corinthians 5:20

All of us know about the middleman. He is that person, or company, who buys a product from a wholesale manufacturer and passes it on to the consumer, with a slight markup. He doesn’t produce or use the product. He only handles it for the customer’s convenience. Most of the time, we try to “cut out the middleman” as an unnecessary expense. But there are some things that we have no time, equipment or know-how to make happen. We need a bridge between the producer and the consumer. The middleman runs the pivot position for us.

For salvation, we have no other mediator than Jesus Christ. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5. Only Jesus can save a soul. But lost humanity needs a middleman who can link the world to the gospel. That task belongs to the church. We may not produce salvation, but neither are we mere consumers. We have received something that must be conveyed to others. The Apostle Paul staked out the church’s commission in the clearest terms possible. “[God] hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself… and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” II Corinthians 5:18-20.

An awesome responsibility weighs upon our shoulders to be the middlemen of peace, joy and blessing to our world. The parable of Jesus about the rich man who built bigger barns to store his great harvest provides an important insight here. Like the farmer, our spiritual ground is in abundance, producing a harvest of quality, quantity and value. The question looms, “What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? The farmer’s response was wrong. “This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.” He made three huge mistakes. He left God out of his decision. He believed that the harvest was his, not God’s. Finally, he thought he was the end-user of the bounty. The church must not repeat his error.

Instead of being the middleman, however, I wonder if too many of us could be better described as the “bottleneck?” We have the abundance of God’s blessings flowing unimpeded into our lives, but how much of it flows out? Can you answer these questions honestly?

  • Are you the reason people serve God, or the reason they don’t?
  • Are you the accelerator or the brakes?
  • Are you a door or a wall?
  • Are you the road sign or the roadblock?
  • Are you the hand that serves or the hand that steals?
  • Are you the sweet refrain or the sour note?
  • Are you the encouraging smile or the forbidding frown?
  • Are you the stepping-stone or the stumbling block?
  • Are you a following sheep or a cantankerous goat?

Two principles govern the economy of the saints. First, the love-forgiveness principle equates the magnitude of forgiveness to the magnitude of love. “To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Luke 7:47. When Mary broke the alabaster box and spilled precious ointment over Christ, she showed her depth of understanding about forgiveness and love. To the extent that the church appreciates its divine pardon, it engages in ministry and evangelism. Second, the greater-blessing principle demands that the level of responsibility be tied to the level of blessing. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48. We stand as the repositories of truth. Will you let the blessings of God flow through you to the world, or will you misappropriate his blessings to waste them on selfish interests? If God placed you in his body, he wants to use you for his purposes. If God gave you a ministry, he wants you to use it for his gain, not yours.

God has mandated the church to represent him on this earth. It is the agency to dispense the gospel message; the vehicle of missionary service; a soul-saving station; the city set on a hill; the light which cannot be hidden; the hands and feet of God; the voice of truth; the middleman to preach Christ. Only through these functions do we validate our purpose.

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