You’ve Probably Never Heard of This Guy
If you know anything about church history, the name Charles Finney probably rings a bell. He was the most famous evangelist during the Second Great Awakening.
However, you’ve probably never heard of Daniel Nash because his name was never part of the headlines that included Charles Finney.
But Charles Finney would probably never have made any headlines without Daniel Nash. You see, Nash quit his pastorate at the age of 48 to intercede for Finney full time. Before Finney would go to a place to preach for revival, Nash had already been there. He would find two or three other intercessors and they would rent a room and start praying for revival.
When Finney started the public meetings, Nash was rarely in attendance. Instead, he could be found praying for the Holy Spirit to convict those in the crowd and bring them to salvation.
Christianity Isn’t a Competition But We Sometimes Treat It Like One
Although it’s not really talked about in Christian circles much, Nash’s response to Finney is unusual. Many times, instead of praying for and interceding for fellow laborers, there is a sense of competition.
Whose church had more attendees on Sunday morning?
Whose revival meetings had a greater number of responses?
Who was the better preacher or teacher?
Competition Between Believers Isn’t Something New
This morning I was reading in Mark 9. This is the passage where Jesus takes John, James and Peter up on the mountain and transfigures in front of them (terrifying them in the process). When they return from this amazing experience, they find the rest of the disciples arguing with some scribes and a crowd has gathered.
When Jesus asks what’s going on, a man tells him he brought his demon-possessed son, but Jesus’ disciples couldn’t cast it out. Of course, Jesus speaks and the demon leaves.
The disciples and Jesus leave the area. As they are walking, the disciples are in a huddle, talking intently with each other. When Jesus asks them what they are talking about, they clam up. Why? Because they are discussing who amongst them is the greatest.
The passage doesn’t explicitly say this, but knowing human nature and reading through to the end of the chapter, my guess is that there was some jealousy and competition going on among the disciples.
Jesus took three of them to see something amazing. The rest got left behind and then came up short in the whole casting out demons thing.
Everyone has a desire to feel special and chosen by someone.
Everyone wants to feel like they are in the inner circle.
Everyone wants to feel like they are, at the very least, not failing.
At least I do – please tell me I’m not alone in those feelings.
How Being Salty Figures Into It All
To be honest, in my first reading of chapter 9, I was a little confused about how it all worked together. There is a lot going on and then the chapter ends with what appears to be these random teachings by Jesus. First, He talks about doing good in His name and then He talks about not being a stumbling block to children. Then He starts talking about cutting off your hands and feet or pulling out your eye if it causes you to stumble.
He winds it all up by talking about salt and being at peace. As I was reading this, I wondered what in the world salt had to do with being at peace with people. His last words in chapter 9 are, “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”
As always, when I am confused I ask questions (my inner journalist coming out, I suppose – also, I’m nosey!). So, I asked God what in the world all this apparently random teaching meant, specifically in my own life.
I went back and looked the chapter over again, and then it hit me – Jesus was talking about serving Him how HE has called you to serve instead of comparing your role with others.
Believers are called to be salt to an unbelieving world. To us 21st century believers, that sounds a little weird right? I mean, salt is nice and all, but why not pepper or better yet, cinnamon? Well, salt in the ancient world was incredibly important.
It was used in many cultures not just as a seasoning, but also as a preservative which was pretty important in an era without refrigeration! It was also used as a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and often as a form of money.
Salt had great value.
Make Sure Your Own Saltshaker is Filled Up
Jesus was saying, in several different ways, make sure YOU are salty because when you are filled up with what God has for YOU, then it’s a whole lot easier to be at peace with other believers.
Being human, we can miss the whole point if we start getting all caught up in competing with other believers about our roles, or comparing our apparent importance in the Kingdom.
We can also seriously turn others off, with all that competition and rivalry, especially children who watch not just what we say but what we do.
And all that stuff about cutting off your foot or hand or plucking out your own eyeball (eww!!), in this area we are our own worst enemies, aren’t we. The thoughts we allow to take up inventory on the shelves of our minds directly relate to how we view the world and those around us (you can read more about our mind’s inventory HERE).
I closed my Bible and opened my Draw the Circle: 40 Day Prayer Challenge for the day’s reading. And low and behold, the author was talking about how he was convicted to pray for the churches right around his own, and to start viewing them as part of the same team – not his competition. That’s where I saw the story of Daniel Nash.
Isn’t it so cool how God ties everything together like that?
Our culture is so wrapped up in individual’s successes, and I believe that has bled into the Church. We aren’t in competition with each other. We are all working for the Kingdom, and another church’s or organization’s or teacher’s or pastor’s or even fellow church member’s spiritual success doesn’t take away from what God has for YOU to do.
God’s blessings and plans aren’t finite. They don’t run out – ever.
Is there someone you have a hard time rejoicing for? Do ever find yourself comparing your own success or growth or spiritualness to others? I’d love to hear about it!