Barriers to Encouragement (3)
But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk…Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 1 Corinthians 7.17, 20
…you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2.12
“[As you are going] therefore, make disciples…” Matthew 28.19
Called and sent
The New Testament is abundantly clear on two matters that concern every follower of Jesus Christ.
Each of us has a calling, and each of us is sent. That is, we have something we’re moving toward because Someone has sent us to it and expects us to be faithful in even the little things that calling entails.
That is, God Himself speaks to every believer, calling us by name, assuring us that we are His, and indicating His plan and purpose for our lives (Is. 43.1; Matt. 5.13-16). God’s calling could not be more clear: Enter, seek, and advance His Kingdom and glory in every aspect of your calling in life. Whatever your calling – your work, your life-setting, your relationships, roles, and responsibilities, what Paul calls your “condition” – God sends you to seek His Kingdom and righteousness and to live for His glory (Matt. 6.33; 1 Cor. 10.31).
Being a Christian is thus a full-time calling. We need the courage only God’s Spirit can give us to work for His Kingdom and glory in every facet and setting of our lives, all the time.
In that calling, God sends us each day as Jesus was sent to this world. Jesus was sent to the world to embody, work for, and proclaim the Kingdom of God, that realm of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit where Jesus is making all things new, restoring the reconciled world for the glory of God and the blessing of the world. He has sent us – everyone who believes in Him – with the same mission (Jn. 20.21). We are to embody, seek, work for, and proclaim the rule of King Jesus in the calling and condition God has appointed to us, making disciples of the people around us as we go about our daily tasks and duties.
Certainly, we will need great courage to carry out this calling. This is a supernatural calling; it puts demands on us that we cannot satisfy apart from the power and courage of God. The Spirit of God can give us this courage, and He can use each of us to encourage one another to excel still more in every facet of our lives for the Kingdom and glory of God. Living this calling and pursuing this mission makes for full and abundant life in Jesus, life exceedingly abundantly beyond what we’ve ever thought possible, life in the power and unto the pleasure of God.
But not if we’re deaf to our calling, or if we otherwise resist embracing it.
Deaf to your calling?
To look at many Christians, we might conclude that the Christian life consists of going to church, perhaps being part of a small group or other church activity, and maybe spending some time in Bible reading and prayer during the week. Very many Christians live their faith in niches or segments or time slots. They believe their calling, such as it is, involves nothing more than making a little time for God in their busy lives. Many of them are decent people who work hard and care for their own.
But you wouldn’t describe them as disciple-makers. Or witnesses for Jesus. Or you would not expect them to be constantly thinking and working to extend the rule of King Jesus into all areas and aspects of their life spheres. Making disciples is what pastors do, right? Being a witness for Jesus is the calling of those who have the “gift of evangelism.” And in the “worldly” spheres of their lives – work, recreation, community life, and so forth – the rules that govern their behavior insist that they keep their religion to themselves. They don’t want to offend anyone, or risk being the object of someone’s wrath, so they go along to get along, thus validating the world’s view that religion is a “private matter.”
Believers who live this way are either deaf to the clear calling of God, outlined above, or they refuse to embrace God’s calling and reserve the right to define their Christianity on their own terms, rather than His. Or maybe no one ever taught them that following Jesus demands their all – all their time, all their strength, all their attention and focus, and all their exertions.
We don’t need the courage of God to live this niche-based, time-slotted way. After all, we only show our Christian colors when we’re among like-minded others; so we can be safe singing hymns, listening to sermons, sharing Bible thoughts, doing good works, or joining others in prayer. Such an approach to Christian life doesn’t require much courage.
Embrace your calling
Our lives are brimming with opportunities to glorify God, speak a word of witness, do good works, and show the beauty and goodness of the Lord. But if we’re going to live for Christ every moment, in every situation, seeking the beauty, goodness, truth, righteousness, peace, and joy of His Kingdom in everything you do, and with every person you know, then we’re going to need courage. Because being a witness for Jesus and working to realize His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven is not only not natural to us, it can be offensive to those in the world who do not know the Lord. It takes courage to live this way. Jesus understands that, and He has sent His Encourager to dwell within us, so that we might break out of our niche-Christian lives into bearing witness, making disciples, and living for His glory in all aspects of our calling.
Have you embraced your calling from the Lord? Are you focused on bringing the Kingdom and righteousness of Jesus to bear on every person, in every situation, at every opportunity, every day of your life? This is what we’re called to, and it’s what we can realize increasingly, as we rest in the courage and power of the Spirit of God and go in obedient faith throughout our day.
The Lord can give us the courage to live more completely and more fully for Him. And as we do, we’ll be able to encourage other believers to do the same.
1. What do we mean by “niche-Christianity” or a “time-slotted” faith? Why is this not what the Lord has in mind for us?
2. What does it mean to have a “calling” from God? To be “sent” like Jesus was sent?
3. Why do we need courage to live this “called-and-sent” way of life? How can we receive that courage?
Next Step – Preparation: If you have not mapped out your Personal Mission Field, watch this brief video (click here), then download the worksheet and get started today.
T. M. Moore
We can encourage people in even small and seemingly insignificant ways. Our book Small Stuff helps you be more aware of the opportunities for encouraging others that God brings to you each day. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.