October 15, 1996 ?
Our visitor mentioned a particular religious group that sends out their door-to-door representatives. He said that the Christian church could take a lesson from their organizational strategies. I responded, “Maybe the Lord organizes the church more effectively than we think,” and told him this story.
More than twenty-five years ago, my sister and family were living in Algeria. During that time, they met a Christian missionary who introduced them to Jesus Christ. My sister says she was excited about her new faith and about returning to Canada. However, she was also a bit apprehensive about finding other Christians. As far as she knew, the only believer in Alberta was a woman who had taught Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) when we were children.
After they moved into their home south of Calgary, they selected a church and ventured out that first Sunday. My sister relates sitting down, still nervous about not knowing any Christians, when a woman came and sat beside her. It was our childhood DVBS teacher!
While many people would remark on an amazing “coincidence,” I am convinced that God not only knows our needs and fears, He also knows how to meet those needs and calm those fears. Since He is sovereign, He can use all of His creation and organize it according to His plans. Despite our resistance and rebellion, He can make sure anyone and anything is in the right place at the right time.
As for organization, humanly speaking we like to have visible control. Not only that, we like to impress others with our organizational skills. Yet “God’s ways are not our ways.” He is not as concerned whether we can see what He is doing as much as He wants us to trust Him. If He is God and we believe what He says about Himself, then we do not need to know His organizational strategy. All we need to know is that “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
This is where faith comes in. Our faith is not in a highly visible map of our future or in knowing life will work out the way we want. Instead, our faith is in God, whether we can see what He is doing or not. As a new believer going to church for the first time in her own country, my sister had no idea that the first Christian she would see would be an old friend. Besides, knowing it would ruin the surprise. Imagine the delight in her Heavenly Father’s heart as He arranged to have that teacher walk into that church, on that day, and sit right beside His new child!
As for making an impression on people with His great organizational ability, God is not into that either. Nonetheless, He is making an impression. Ephesians 3:10 says, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms . . . “
God uses what appears to be a disorganized body of believers to impress those who rule in the unseen realm—angels and demons. While they are not capable of knowing all that God knows, they are far more aware than we are of what He is doing through His church.
Scripture confirms that these principalities and powers gaze at the church in overwhelmed awe. They know that God is “not the author of confusion” but an orderly, organized God. This one personal story illustrates only a small fraction of His ability to structure events as He pleases.
Most of the time, the visible organization we can see in the church varies from “not bad” to “awful.” However, we know that one day we will see it more clearly. For now, we can trust our Lord and delight in His “coincidences.”