—Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (8 September,"Do It Yourself")
Powerful devotional today. Jesus continues His ministry today through His Spirit, in His people. Not only is that true of extending mercy and the ministry of reconciliation to the world, but He also gives us the privilege and responsibility of being active participants in our own salvation—never, ever by our own power, yet His Spirit empowers each believer. Who will knock down the idols I've raised up in my life? I am closest to them.
Community in the form of the church is also an extension of Jesus' ministry. These verses were written to the church in Corinth—while they are applicable to the life of the individual believer, they are also about the life of the church body. Sometimes I won't see my idols, or I will be so in love with them and so afraid of living without them that I won't bring them crashing down myself. We must do that for one another, not in a way that attempts to supplant the Spirit's role in convicting each of his own sin, but in a way that walks out Christ's ministry. Have I let the church and its people into my life in such a way that they can do even the violent (and impolite!) act of demolishing the idols there? Will I let Him use me that way in another's life?
If neither I nor my brethren topple these idols, God Himself is left to it. This means I've stifled the work of His Spirit in my inner life, and I've blocked the Spirit's work through the church. In such a case, God can do one of two things, both of them terrible. He Himself can bring an idol down, which will hurt inasmuch as I am still clinging to it for the life it can never give. Or He can turn me over to it, to the empty worship of nothing instead of the life-giving worship of Him. Each is a severe mercy, discipline from a loving Father intended to bring back a wayward child. If I hold this discipline in contempt as well, then it is certainly reasonable to wonder whose I am—His, or my own.
There is a lot of work for me here. My inner life is a veritable museum of idols raised up against the knowledge of God. That work may well be painful, messy, and slow, or it may be none of these things. What I know for sure is that it is His work, given to me by the presence and power of His Spirit in my life. Today, I want to learn to do it.