So where do we do the work?
I ask this question again because I have yet to provide an answer in my previous blog. I believe the ‘where’ varies for each person. I have found great insight and comfort in Paul’s words to the Corinthian church.
But we confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you…Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand. -2 Corinthians 10:13,15
What is the sphere that God has assigned to you? Boast in that sphere and heed Paul’s warning in the previous verses:
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. -2 Corinthians 10:12
Sometimes we commend our efforts by comparing ourselves to those whose sphere is different. Unfortunately we are tempted to conclude that any sphere different than our own is a lesser sphere. But Paul didn’t place his hope in carnal comparisons. Instead, he knew why and where he was sent. Paul’s hope was that faith would lead to growth; and growth would enlarge his sphere of ministry.
I am aware that some of our methods have a defined sphere that we deem the most important. I want to be clear to state that your sphere is very important. Yet, it is not more important than another sphere that God has sent some of His children to serve.
But I ask this question: does satan constrain his spheres of activity? Doesn’t God’s adversary work in politics, businesses, schools, gangs, arts, music, poor communities, wealthy communities, city streets and county streets? So why would our approach to one sphere of life be the full answer of God’s work through His church? Doesn’t light need to shine in every crevice where darkness is found?
I take great delight in encouraging people to faithfully serve in the sphere God has assigned them on their college campus, in their neighborhood, their place of work, their local gym, their kids’ school, and sports leagues. God has given each of us different gifts and interests. The variety of our gifts strengthens the work of the church. This is a great benefit to ministry in our generation. We live in a world that continues to shrink. We are able to communicate across the globe in seconds and fly across a country in hours. Rarely do people live, work, and worship in the same community. With increased transportation has come increased access which has produced a greater variety of choice. My point is that many of our personal spheres have extended beyond geographic limits. Instead of one sphere of influence we may have 3 or 5. This change has created an opportunity for each person to have an expanded sphere of ministry.
I end my statement of my personal missiology with a brief exploration of this question brought before Jesus: “ Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). This question is vital because all of the law hinges on these two commandments: Love God and Love your neighbor. But who is my neighbor? After telling the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus responds to this question with a greater question: Who was a neighbor?
The Samaritan wasn’t expected to be the one to help but he was a neighbor. The neighbor wasn’t the person who was close; it was the person who acted mercifully. Wherever our sphere of ministry may lead us, let us be neighbors and show mercy to those we encounter.
The content of these three blogs describe significant components of my missiology. It is a mission that is agile and diverse. It is ultimately rooted in this belief: any sacrifice we may offer in our methods is superseded by obedience to going where God calls, being who God created, and doing what God commands. Obedience is greater than sacrifice. The best remedy for a hurting world is God’s glorious plan.