Right about now I tend to run a parallel calendar in my mind with the events of Easter. It usually starts during the Passion Week with its daily, play-by-play account of events. It’s then easy to keep that calendar momentum rolling through, and even beyond, the Easter season since events are so well keyed into timeframes in the gospels and Acts.
Over the past couple of days, having just celebrated Easter two Sundays ago, I’ve found myself probing my parallel calendar by asking, “So what would the disciples have been up to today?” This has gotten me to thinking about their first official act, replacing Judas, after Jesus had ascended to heaven.
What strikes me about this act is the reason why they did it: Scripture. Peter shared that Judas’ act of betrayal was a fulfillment of Scripture, a fulfillment that also pointed to the need to replace him. The act of replacing Judas gives us an inspiring picture of the role that God’s Word should play in our lives, a picture of knowing God’s Word and trusting God’s Word. Peter needed a knowledge of Scripture to know what to do, and he had to trust Scripture in order to act on that knowledge.
Two realms of immediate application come to mind: our personal walk with God and our ministry work.
From a personal standpoint, I find myself asking these questions: What is going on in my life that exhibits a passion to want to know God’s Word? What is going on in my life that exhibits a trust for God’s Word to change me…to affect my behavior and alter my agenda? In all honesty, I don’t have to look too far or very hard to see what I need to adjust.
From a ministry standpoint, a very convicting question bubbles to the top: What am I doing that trusts the Word of God to do what it says it can do? Through God’s Spirit, the Word of God can convict, transform, and lead people to salvation (to name just a few things God’s Word can do. Scripture can do all the things I hope to accomplish in ministry! So, am I allowing it to do those things?
One way to gauge our trust factor is to scan our ministry programming and see how much of what we do is motivated more by our personal fears or anxieties, rather than a trust of God’s Word. For example, it’s easy to fear that famous middle school attention span so we revert to video and quick-changing formats. It’s easy to fear students not liking us, so we cater to lively discussion and things we know build rapport. We fear being labelled irrelevant (the dreaded eyeroll) so we bail out to hot topics and issues we know will keep students engaged.
All those things—relevant video, lively discussion, hot topics, good rapport—are helpful and necessary. But are those things replacing a desperate trust of God’s Word?
It had to have been a bit unnerving for the disciples to choose a replacement. They had all been hand-picked by Jesus. To pick a disciple would be to step out from under the umbrella of Jesus’ protection. It would have been easy for them to have been handcuffed by their fears with thoughts like: We have a nice group of 11 right here; we’ve got good dynamics and a nice balance; let’s not mess up the mix.
But because of Scripture, they knew what they were supposed to do. So they confidently stepped through their fears and did what Scripture told them to do. Maybe we can all use this scene with the disciples as a jump-start to trust God’s Word to do what it says it can do, not only in our personal walks, but in our ministries.
Here are a few ideas to help jump-start a trust of God’s Word in ministry:
Poll Your Students: Take a poll asking all your students which three books of the Bible they’d like to study. (Be prepared for one of the top picks to be Revelation.) Then look at your discipleship calendar and see when you can offer a time to study the top three vote getters.
Tweak Your Students: Share the document “God’s Word on God’s Word” (you can download it here) and invite them to journal their thoughts on everything they learn about God’s Word. Prompt them to look for answers to questions like: What can God’s Word do? How am I to approach it? How is it described?
Scan the Scriptures: Click here to download an excerpt from Unleashing God’s Word in Youth Ministry. This document provides a valuable treatment of every book of the Bible with a quick overview and portals for studying each book.
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