Some Are Called to Go, More Are Called to StayDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-3
Each year, missions conferences concentrate on overseas missionaries, highlighting their good gospel work in foreign lands. During this emphasis, our sermons often look at the life of Paul—the consummate model of the traveling missionary, and we are encouraged to ask ourselves, “Am I called to overseas missions, too?”
But what strikes me about the life of Paul is how little he calls people to become traveling missionaries like him. He actually expects most of them to live normal lives right where God has placed them, and to be on mission right there. In fact, at one point he says, “Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches … So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God” (1 Cor. 7:17-24).
While some are called to go, most are called to stay.
Paul would go from town to town and set up shop there, making tents (Acts 18:3). And “as was his custom,” he’d go into the synagogue on the Sabbath where “he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead” (Acts 17:1-3).
Again, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “You remember our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thes. 2:9). Paul and his companions saw their work as a major part of their ministry. They intentionally modeled for the church at Thessalonica the normal way a Christian is to function in the world.
The Thessalonians caught the vision! Paul wrote to them, “And you became imitators of us … ” (1 Thes. 1:6). They became an example to all the other people in that region, showing them the way Christians serve God and people (see 1 Thes. 1:8-10).
While a few of the Thessalonians might have gone off to become missionaries to other lands, most of them stayed and witnessed the power of the gospel right where they already were. Their work was energized by their faith in God and by their love for the people.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How are you a missionary right where you are? How does your work witness to others that God is good and cares for them? How can you make your work “of faith” and your labor ”of love?”
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, we often hear the stories of foreign missionaries who are doing wonderful work, and we think of ourselves as second-class Christians. But you have told us we are your witnesses in and through our work. We have opportunities to bless people right where we are. Thank you for that. Establish the work of our hands for us. Amen.
Work for God
Whatever work you do, it matters to God. And you can glorify God through your work. God doesn't give more points or ascribe more value to pastoral or missionary or non-profit work. God looks at you and the work you do in your cubicle or classroom or kitchen or conference call, and all of it matters to him. It's not just ministers who work for God. No matter what type of work we do, let's do it to the glory of God. This series, Work for God, reminds us to do all of our work as if we were working for God, because we are.