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Someone asked today why his life was going so miserably when he had invested everything he had into what he saw as doing God’s will. He attended Bible college, he prayed “three times a day”, he gave to charities, he lived soberly and chastely – and yet, he felt no joy and no connection with God, and now he even feels suicidal and wants to throw it all in.
This strikes at the heart of what it means to be “Christian”. Jesus dealt with this same issue with some of his early followers, as have other prophets over the millennia. Why give everything up for God when all you seem to get back is poverty and abuse? (more…)
Hey, YOU! Yes, you.
Are you on God welfare?
Are you pulling your weight in the kingdom?
Are you earning your keep? Just doing enough to slide by?
Or are you not doing any work at all for God?
Even as a 12-year-old, Jesus understood the concept of “working for God”. During his ministry years, he worked for God full-time. In fact, he was notorious for pulling double and even triple shifts. As his followers, we’re supposed to be like him. He’s not supposed to do all the work and we just tag along for the free ride – no. We’re supposed to be out there working as hard as he did.
If you’re in God’s kingdom (which you are, if you’re born again), then you have to work for God. No excuses and no exceptions. It’s the family business and we all have to pitch in.
Yet knowing this, and even knowing how hard Jesus worked during his ministry years, many born-agains are still sitting on their spiritual asses (and I don’t mean donkeys). Maybe they show up for a service once in a while, maybe they mumble a few “prayers” or read an occasional Bible verse, maybe they throw some money at a “Christian” charity, or maybe they just don’t do anything at all. Maybe they truly are good-for-nothing bums relying on spiritual hand-outs from God.
I’m not talking about being busy like Martha. That’s not the kind of work we need to do. Martha ran herself ragged doing chores that had nothing to do with the kingdom. Jesus was very clear that Mary was accomplishing far more by sitting at his feet and learning from him than Martha was by worrying and fussing over her chores.
Here are a few jobs that are always available in the family business. See which ones suit you best:
- Go out into the world and preach the Good News.
- Heal the spiritually sick.
- Feed the spiritually poor.
- Cast out demons.
- Love your enemies.
- Visit people in hospital.
- Visit people in prison.
- Treat other people as you want to be treated.
- Choose to forgive.
You can sign up for some or all of these jobs, but you’ve got to do at least one. I suggest taking on as many as you think you can handle (with God’s help). It’s not enough just to ‘slide by’ in God’s kingdom. You have to earn your keep.
Jesus talked a lot about rewards. What he really meant was your spiritual paycheck. We all get paid for working in God’s kingdom. As born-agains, we get an advance on our pay (joy, peace, hanging out with God and Jesus, etc.) that’s enough to keep us going while we’re still here on Earth, but the big pay-out comes when we get to heaven.
God doesn’t expect us to work for free. He wants us to keep our reward in front of us. He wants us to use it as a motivation, just like we use money as a motivation for doing our earthly jobs. Would you do your earthly job without the motivation of money? Likely not. Then don’t pretend you’d work for God for free. I certainly wouldn’t work for free. Neither would Jesus. I love God and all, and I certainly want to do my part for the family business, but it’s heaven that’s motivating me.
Paul said that heaven is worth any and all suffering that the world can throw at us. He lived it and he meant it. I, too, have seen enough of heaven to know that Paul was right. Most born-agains have seen at least glimpses of it. If you haven’t yet, ask God to show you what he’s got waiting for you. He’s always happy to do so.
As born agains, what we do to earn our ‘daily bread’ should have the lowest priority in our lives. We should do our earthly job well, but it shouldn’t take precedence over the work we do for the kingdom. Jesus was a carpenter, but when he started his ministry work, he stopped being a carpenter. There’s no mention of him from that point onwards doing any other kind of work than God’s work. We all need to get to that point in our lives. We all need a “Matthew moment” when we just walk away from our earthly job and never look back.
If you can’t imagine doing that, then you’re storing up your treasures on Earth, not heaven. Jesus said to store your treasures in heaven. Nothing and no-one, not family, not friends, not possessions, not reputation, not obligations, not creature comforts – nothing should be more important to you than working for God.
Paul made tents during the first years of his ministry work. He was adamant that people earn their keep by their own labor. Paul didn’t say to stop doing earthly work altogether but to do whatever you had to do so you wouldn’t be a burden to others. But he isn’t known to us today as “Paul the Tentmaker”; he’s known as the Apostle Paul. He devoted just enough time and energy making tents to put a roof over his head and food in his mouth; otherwise, ALL the rest of his time and energy went to doing God’s work. Eventually, Paul stopped making tents altogether and lived on donations from those who voluntarily chose to support his ministry work.
We’re all eventually supposed to get to that point.
First, you need to get to where you can imagine walking away from it all and working full-time for the kingdom, and then, when the time’s right, you need to do it.
But before that can happen, you’ve got to get off and stay off God welfare.