Ministry for Mission: Ministry Outcomes (5)
You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2.10-12
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10.31
“For as our salvation is founded upon God's gracious adoption, every blessing that Christ has brought us is comprehended in this one term. It now remains that we answer God's call, that is, that we shew ourselves to be such children to him as he is a Father to us. For he who lives otherwise than as becomes a child of God, deserves to be cut off from God’s household.”
- John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2.12
Called to God’s Kingdom and glory
All who have heard and heeded God’s call become citizens and ambassadors in the Kingdom not of this world, and are devoted to the cause of filling the earth with the knowledge of the glory they know increasingly in Jesus Christ.
This is the Christian’s calling, the Christian’s life, and the Christian’s greatest joy and fulfillment. In answering God’s call to His Kingdom and glory, we show ourselves to be His children; as members of His household, we live as becomes those whose primary frame of reference is the domain of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit, which is the Kingdom of God.
Our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God demands an entirely new way of living. It entails what Paul describes as a worthy walk, a way of life that reflects our most fundamental convictions and priorities, and that refracts the light of God’s glory into every relationship, role, and responsibility. God is glorified, and the way of His Kingdom is realized and illuminated, as His children – who delight in His glory – go forth into their daily lives and take up their worthy walk.
Jesus said as much when He told His disciples, “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (Jn. 15.8).
If taking up this worthy walk of living to show the glory of God to the world is not our daily ambition and intention, then, as Calvin says, we deserve to be cut off from God’s household. Since no shepherd of God’s flock is eager for this to be the case, we must devote ourselves to helping each member of the Lord’s flock embrace that worthy walk of Kingdom living to the glory of God.
But what does this entail?
It's all about time
God is working through His Church to make His glory known in every place, to every person, in every created thing. The glory is there, as God has invested all of creation with His glory. It falls to His children – His royal priesthood – to know God in His glory, and then to show that glory to the world by words and deeds (Prov. 25.2; 1 Cor. 10.31).
God shows His glory to the world in time, that is, in the moments He grants to His children each day, and all the activities that fill those moments. We must be good stewards of our time, because spiritual forces of wickedness in high places work to deny the manifestation of God’s glory; to cloud the minds of men, lest they should know God’s glory; and to discourage or divert all who know God’s glory from actually showing that glory to the world (Eph. 5.15-17). Every moment of the time of our lives which is not devoted to showing the glory of God, will be lost for lesser, and in some cases nefarious, purposes.
We must not take the time of our lives for granted. Time is, as Jonathan Edwards noted, our most precious temporal gift. We must receive God’s gift of time with grateful hearts, seek Him concerning how best to use the moments of our lives (Ps. 90.12), and then devote our time to living for God’s Kingdom and glory (Ps. 90.16, 17).
But as with everything that pertains to newness of life in the Kingdom of God, this doesn’t just happen. God’s people must be taught to make the most of the time of their lives; and they must receive the kind of shepherding oversight that helps them to improve their time for the Kingdom and glory of God.
Showing the glory of God is all about time, and what we do with the time of our lives. And this means imposing on the time of our lives those practices and habits that enable us to use each moment of time as an arena for glorifying God in the world.
The disciplined life
The Lord’s sheep must be led to take up those Kingdom disciplines that will enable them, increasingly, to show the glory of God in all the words and deeds that fill up the time of their lives. They will need to sustain a lively and fruitful regimen of spiritual disciplines; to master the love-and-service relational disciplines of the Kingdom calling; to bring into their work those vocational disciplines that make time serve the purposes of God’s glory; to join with their fellow believers in communal disciplines – worship, ministry, disciple-making – that are our common calling; and to learn those provisional disciplines that enable us to resist the devil and grow through adversity and setbacks.
Disciplined shepherds must work to nurture disciplined sheep, for only when we are consciously, consistently, and increasingly using all the moments of the time of our lives to show the glory of God to the world will we be realizing our worthy walk and increasing the knowledge of God’s glory wherever we go.
Jesus was the most disciplined person who ever lived. He told His disciples to follow His example, and when they did – making the most of their time for the worthy walk of their Kingdom calling – they turned their world upside-down for Jesus Christ. May it please God to enable us to do the same.
Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, has risen. Rise up from the sleep of the age. Walk cautiously and prudently. Cast off folly. Take hold of wisdom. In this way you will be able to avoid changing yourself constantly as you walk through the vicissitudes of the times. Rather you will find a unity within yourself even amid the diversity of the times.
- Jerome (347-420), Epistle to the Ephesians 3.5.16
The Time of Your Life
Resources for Shepherds
We invite you to explore – and even contribute to – our new Resources for Shepherds page at the Ailbe website is building up a treasury of all kinds of resources to help you in your ministry. Have a look, and if you have something to contribute, just use the Submissions area.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, quotes from Church fathers are from The Ancient Christian Commentary Series (InterVarsity Press).