Does God Use Us?

Remember when previously owned cars were called used cars? I don’t remember when someone decided the word used made the cars sound less attractive to buyers, but when it happened I laughed. No matter what you call a car someone owned before you, it’s still used. I guess euphemisms like previously owned, well loved, retro or antique make some people feel better about buying used items.

The word used can bring negative images to mind and usually has bad connotations. We like new cars and new clothes and shoes; we want new sheets for our beds and new towels for our bathrooms. And no one wants to be used. When someone uses people for their own ends, society generally frowns.

So why do Christians want to be used by God? Besides the negative connotations, being used implies passivity. It makes us think of someone selfishly taking advantage of other human beings and their freedom.

God called Moses his friend and Jesus calls us friends. Friends don’t use each other. When they do it’s called betrayal. As friends of God, we are called to participate with the Holy Spirit in his ministry of love, not to be passive puppets whose strings are pulled whenever God needs something done. God is our Father and calls us his children. As parents, we wouldn’t use our children and I believe God doesn’t use us either.

Christianity is participation in the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God wants people who love him back and he loves freedom. That’s why he gave us freedom of choice, the choice to obey or turn away, the choice to love or not. He gave us freedom to work with him or not. We are not forced, but allowed to make our own decisions. We freely choose to love him and participate in his work.

Participation has a much more positive feel, doesn’t it? I would rather participate than be used. It’s much more motivating. I realize this might sound like simple semantics to some, but words are important and have power. To think the Creator of all things wants me, by choice, to participate in what he’s doing in this sad, fallen world moves me to want to get involved. When we participate we have a real sense of accomplishment–not out of vanity or selfish pride, but knowing we’ve made a contribution and pleased and delighted the only one whose opinion counts for anything. Will God say well done to someone he used? Why would he reward a puppet on a string? Do we really love someone who uses and controls us? Or do we resent him or her?

Let’s change the way we think of and talk about working for God and serving his people. Let’s not ask God to use us, and let’s not think of ourselves as being used. Rather let’s see our ministries and work for the Kingdom of God as fun, exciting, loving participation with our friend Jesus.

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