Two persons, working at a desk. They were typing endlessly since dawn; without a break, they count down to 5.
Are they working for themselves, or for something else?
Two students, studying through the night. They were striving to ace every test that comes their way.
Are they studying to learn, or for something else?
The central idea that these questions point toward is the overall purpose of life. What are we living for and how should we live it? Should we sell ourselves to organizations in exchange for a countable sum, or should we devote our entire lives to God and see where He take us?
Now before I go on, I must emphasize that I am not against working full-time jobs. Neither am I against the idea of studying or having fun. My central focus of this post is to find out what can the Church do to help people find their place on earth.
As Christians, we all know that our fundamental purpose of living is to worship God and to reflect His glory. But the question “how” has remained a big question until now.
I have been told that in everything I do, I have to “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23, NIV). That includes my seemingly meaningless pursuit in education and in my office job. I have also been told to find my calling and in God’s kingdom, everyone has a different part to play. Sure, I know that there’s quite a handful of job descriptions listed in the bible for us to choose from, such as “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). But what if, just what if, I really don’t know?
This is one of the questions that the Churches face in modernity. Whether in developing cities or developed cities, the question remains – what should I do in life and what should I do to get there?
For this article, I propose four steps Churches can follow to help members find their way in life.
Know What God’s Will Is.
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2, NIV)
As believers of Christ, the will of God should be the central in our lives. The knowledge of the will of God should guard our every thought, every decision, and every action. The knowledge of Christ’s suffering for the purpose of our reconciliation with God should cause us to denounce sin. The word used here is to be “done with sin”.
The term used in this passage should invoke a sense of clear conviction. No more am I going to go against God because whatever God has in store for us is so much better than the lies of sin. No more are we going to sin because I know what Christ must go through for this! Know what the will of God is – that is to be reconciled with God through the blood of Christ – and not like how we used to live in the past, without the knowledge of God’s will.
Now, this knowledge of the will of God should also invoke some sense of motivation in the believer. Something needs to be done when one prays for “Your kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, NIV; emphasis added). In order to play a part in the will of God on earth, one must need to know what it is first! Hence, we will need to know how Jesus views the earth and the people on it, then align it with the knowledge of God’s reconciliation plan for all humankind, then we will have a clearer picture about what we should do.
Know the Needs of the Community at large.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:35-37, NIV).
From a teacher’s point of view, the sight of an unimaginable amount of people being “harassed and helpless” and being “without a shepherd” must have taunted Jesus. No one knew what is the truth. No one knew what is the purpose of life. People blindly followed what their leaders told them, abiding by the law and making ends meet throughout the days of their lives. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, most of the people He had met focuses their attention on having their physical needs met (ref: John 6:26). Jesus too tries to meet their physical needs whenever He can. He healed every disease and sickness, He even fed them. However, the main reason behind Jesus’ providence is to point people towards the truth – Himself (ref: John 14:6).
“Jesus answered, ‘the work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.’” (John 6:29, NIV)
People need the Lord. And all that we do should point people towards Him. We may feed them, heal them, and teach them just like how Jesus did. And ultimately, through these means, point people to them. They need help. They need to be guided by the truth. They too, need to make ends meet during their daily lives; and Jesus can provide those for them if only they sought Him.
“Do not worry”, He said. “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.
Know What Your Gifts Are.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8, NIV).
Recognising that the job required of us covers a huge scope and everyone has different talents. Hence, it is of utmost importance that we tap into the talents that God so graciously gave us to point people to God. Even though only prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and charity is mentioned, there is still a whole lot of work we can do too. The same verse can be used like this: If you’re gifted in medicine, heal. If you are gifted in design, design. If you’re gifted in business, then manage an enterprise. If you’re gifted in management, then manage all God’s resources and ensure that all is put to good use. If you’re gifted in human resource, then ensure that people are sorted into the jobs and roles that best matches their gifts!
The work here is limitless, and it can be up to the Church to evaluate needs, plan, coordinate, and engage the entire congregation to participate in this massive plan! Our goal is the same – to point people to The Truth. And the endless possibilities opened for us meant that we are free to dream dreams for God. Have visions, dream big, and work together as a Church to watch Jesus’ vision unfold.
Make Plans to Achieve Goals that You’ve Set for the Community but Rest in God’s Sovereignty
Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16: 6-9, NIV)
Make all the necessary plans to help us achieve our goals and our dreams for God. Paul was called to make Christ known to the Gentiles, so he made all the necessary plans to go to wherever he wants to go. He probably bought maps, planned travel routes, booked boat tickets, and even exchanged money beforehand. Similarly, we too must make plans to achieve our goals and our dreams for God. If we are called to be a doctor, then make sure we go to medical school to get the necessary training. If we are called to be a businessman, work on your mathematics, sciences, and communication skills. Plans are required to be done on our part to ensure success in all we do.
““Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30, NIV).
Planning is important before we undertake any task. Even for ministry, planning is of great importance to ensure that we provide the proper service that the community need, and in a manner that will best benefit them. However, planning does not mean taking the entirety of the matter into our own hands. Planning and execution need to be done in a way that God’s sovereignty is respected.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.” (Psalms 127:1, NIV). We must right our heart before God before deciding on any ministry. The purpose of all that we do should be centred on God’s will to be on earth as it is in heaven.
With the knowledge of God’s sovereignty and God’s will, we will recognise that any closed doors that come our way as we execute our plans are part of God’s will. Paul experienced similar occurrences in his ministry as well. He was called to make Christ known to the Gentiles, and He had got big plans to go places, to plant churches and to teach. However, His ministry is often met with abrupt U-turns where He plans to go somewhere, and God calls him elsewhere.
Recognising God’s sovereignty will help us keep our eyes focused on Him in the face of disappointments and rejections. The knowledge that all these are for God’s glory will give us the added motivation to do what we ought to do, seeking Him earnestly for guidance in our earthly lives.
Churches are institutes of dreams that should centre all activities on God. Recognising the Will of God, the Church can explore a multitude of ways to point people to God while engaging her congregation to participate actively in its activities. Ultimately, the Church will need to recognise that all ministries are God’s Ministries, and God is sovereign over all of them. The knowledge of God’s sovereign guidance will right believers’ attitudes towards disappointments and rejections, and at the same time, help the Church grow in love for Him and experience His divine guidance first-hand.