Vocational Disciplines (5)
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare arenot carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… 2 Corinthians 10.3-5
It’s war out there!
The work we’ve been given to do in seeking the Kingdom and glory of God must be accomplished within a hostile environment. That is, as we are pursuing those good works, in all areas of our life, that bring near the Kingdom of God to the people around us, forces are at work opposing and resisting us. The Apostle John identified himself as one with us in the Kingdom of God, but also in the “tribulation” which is in the world (Rev. 1.9). If we’re going to succeed at our particular calling in life, John suggested, we’re going to need patient endurance.
And patient endurance issues from readiness, from always being prepared to overcome for Christ and His Kingdom, no matter what.
Readiness or being always prepared is an important vocational discipline. It applies to all aspects of our calling in the Kingdom because, as we shall see, everything in our lives matters to King Jesus, and He intends to use us to put everything in proper order for His praise and glory.
So what does readiness involve, and how can we make sure we’re always prepared for whatever the enemies of Christ and His Kingdom might throw our way?
Ready for what?
First, we should make sure we understand what we’re preparing for at any moment, in any situation, or with respect to any of our work. What we want to achieve is Kingdom progress, the glory of God, staking out every part of our lives as belonging to the Lord and under construction according the promises and power of His loving rule.
The Apostle Paul explains that the world, in many ways, has fallen under the pervasive influence of what he refers to as “the Lie” (Rom. 1.18-32). The Lie is the work of the father of lies, who leads people to believe that they can live their lives without the need of God or His Word (cf. Prov. 14.12). Nothing escapes the discoloration and distortion the Lie causes, as people suppress the truth about Christ and His Kingdom by their unrighteousness ideas, words, and deeds.
Because all things are thus garbed in a cloud of untruth, none of them can realize their full potential of beauty, goodness, truth, and the glory of God and blessing of His Word. This is true of everything – relationships, communications, work, study, art, science, and all disciplines and vocations. Only Christ can redeem all things, reconcile them to God, and renew them in His Kingdom power. And He does this through His people, who possess the mind, Word, Spirit, and power of Christ for making all things new. This is part of every believer’s calling from the Lord.
We must learn to identify the Lie in all areas of life, whether its presence be great or small, and to expose and dismantle it, replacing it with the teaching of Christ for all things. For this we must be well trained in the use of all the weapons of our warfare, and skilled in directing them at every dark redoubt of the Lie in every area of human life and interest.
The Apostle Peter said we should be always prepared to explain our way of life to people who, because of what they see in us, realize we live differently than they do (1 Pet. 3.15). In order to be “always ready” for such opportunities, and for taking everything in our lives captive to obey King Jesus, we need to keep a few things in mind.
First, Jesus Christ is Lord – now, and over everything. The world and everything in it belong to Him (Ps. 24.1), and He intends that the knowledge of His glory should cover the earth as the waters cover the seas (Hab. 2.14). We can set our minds on this fact as we come before the Lord in prayer each day, and as prayer, meditation, singing, and other spiritual disciplines provide the envelope in which we go about everything in our lives.
Second, always make love your aim. Paul says we must owe no one anything but genuine love (Rom. 12.9, 13.8). Whatever we do or whatever we must say in any situation, love for God and neighbors must guide all our work (Matt. 22.34-40).
Third, maintain a servant mindset (Jn. 13.1-15; Mk. 10.42-45). Servants seek to help others succeed in their work, even if they themselves are overlooked or, perhaps, even abused at times.
Finally, keep working to master all the weapons of spiritual warfare (Eph. 6.10-20). You won’t need every one of these every day, but you’ll need to be ready with them as situations arise that threaten to block, undermine, or derail your work and calling from the Lord.
Always be ready for whatever the enemies of the faith might try, and you’ll have greater joy and success in fulfilling your calling from the Lord.
Next steps: What does it mean for you to “be ready” to take everything in your calling captive for King Jesus? In what ways do you need to improve in this vocational discipline? Talk with a friend or church leader about your answers.
T. M. Moore
A rightly-disciplined life requires a Kingdom vision, and that vision is centered on Jesus Christ exalted. T. M. has prepared a series of meditations on the glorious vision of Christ, based on Scripture and insights from the Celtic Christian tradition. Order your copy of Be Thou My Vision 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.