What is our priority in our ministry and day-to-day choices? And how do we determine if we're succeeding?
Like many of you that I know, I’ve always loved reading the biographies of “exceptional Christians”. For many of us, when we hear of how God has used the lives of ordinary people in truly extraordinary ways, we’re driven down on our knees to (once again) declare our lives to be fully surrendered for God to use however dramatically as He so chooses. But eventually we get up and realize we’re running late for work. Or have an assignment to finish. Or supper to make. How can we live lives like these “Great Men and Women of Faith” when our days seem so…normal?
God may indeed be calling some of us to live in circumstances that onlookers would consider extraordinary. But most of us will not have our biographies written, and history won’t remember our names or keep a tally of our admirers and accomplishments. Thankfully, this has never been the aim.
There is no verse that says, “Thou shalt seek the most dramatic situation thou can think of to prove thine commitment to the faith”, or “Thou shalt pursue a great and far-reaching influence and have thine name revered far and wide”. While we praise God when He does raise up effective and influential evangelists and teachers, influence in itself is not the end to aim for. In fact, when we look to many of the “exceptional Christians” we read about, rarely do we find that they sought out their influence or fame. Rather, their daily pursuit and priority was God Himself, and to live a faithful life in love, obedience, and submission to Him. Regardless of whether that was in quiet or chaos.
While God may have singled these people out in the midst of their simple lives to personally shepherd through out-of-the-ordinary experiences, it was the original tuning of their heart that pleased Him, and that kept them faithful and grounded through whatever they went through. Second to God’s grace but also by it, it was this tuning of their hearts that led them through to their greatest prize: not the admiration of crowds, but intimacy with Christ while in this life, and ultimately a face-to-face, unspeakably joyous reunion with their Creator in the next, knowing by His grace they lived a life that was poured out as a glorious and beautiful offering to Him.
Wherever we’re living, whether ministering to thousands or a couple of toddlers at home, we have neither grounds to excuse ourselves from the full weight of His purpose for us, nor any reason to look enviously upon the more outwardly exciting path He’s given another. God’s overarching and foundational mandates for all His servants are the same: He commands us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; to love our neighbours as ourselves; to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him; and to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness while trusting He will provide for us everything else. This calling is more than high and challenging enough, and to fulfill it we will need to rely on Him, and on His grace, mercy, and Word to guide us through each moment. And by His grace, He will sanctify us to submit to His wisdom and direction, to see the world and humanity with the eyes He sees them with, and to reflect more clearly the character and love of Christ.
Whether or not this leads to temporal greatness is not our concern; what it will lead to is the pleasure of Christ and our Heavenly Father. Which, in the end, is the incomparably more joyous prize anyway.