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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Serving God in the Marketplace

When we talk about missionaries we usually think in terms of people who are sent out by a church, church group, or other type of mission-sending agency. But since the early days of the church God has always worked most powerfully through people in their normal work-a-day world. Understand, I believe very much in the concept of missions as we normally think of it. Our family spent a year and a half in East Africa as missionaries for the Church of God (Anderson, IN). We were assigned to Tanzania and that was our primary field of emphasis, but we also lived in Kenya while studying Swahili at the Church of the Province of Kenya guesthouse. I believe in organized, planned, missionary sending ministries. We give our tithes and offerings to make that possible and I hope you do too. The spread of the Gospel throughout the earth depends on our doing this and doing it well and it is the directive of Christ that we do so.

However, I am also convinced that the greatest missionary impact is in the lives of lay people who serve God consistently, day after day in the marketplace of life—the schools, the factories, the retail stores, and every other place you can imagine where God’s people go to earn a living for themselves and their families. There is nothing as life-changing for a non-believer as to see a godly person live a Christ-like life in all the various experiences of the work-a-day world. They see them face tragedy and loss with a grace that is incomprehensible. They see them have fun with no need to get drunk or take recreational drugs. They see Christians get angry without sin. In all these normal life situations, they wonder how they do it. Sometimes they ask.  When the Christian identifies God—Father, Son, and/or Holy Spirit—as the source of their strength it is the most powerful witness anyone can ever see. As I said before, it is life-changing!

It is sort of like prayer. Prayer meetings at church are good and we should have them, but even more powerful is for people to “pray without ceasing” by living our lives in the presence of God so that every moment of life is a prayer. Much of the time they are just fleeting prayers “Lord help me!” Or “God give me wisdom.” “Lord what should I say?” “How should I answer?” or, “How do I solve this work or life problem?” or “Thank you Lord for this beautiful day!” And there needs to be those longer personal times alone with God when we spend time in private prayer. But really every moment of every day is a prayer for people who are fully surrendered to God.

In the same way, when we live as Christ-like persons in our work places we are the real missionaries. If you are a salesman, or a janitor, or a stay-at-home mom—a business executive, a police officer or retail clerk—any work that benefits people and somehow makes the world a better place, it can also be a ministry and a mission if it is dedicated to God. A pastor, missionary, or any other ministry professional is no more holy to God than lay persons who serve God as best they can in all the areas of their lives. Any work we do is a ministry or a mission when it helps people and is dedicated to God.

So I praise God for your ministry and your mission! I hope you also give God praise and thankfulness for using you as a … whatever your place of mission happens to be. Being a missionary to a school as a teacher or principle or janitor is just as important to God as being a missionary to Tanzania or Kenya or anywhere else.

I'm Rick Blumenberg . . . and that's My View from Tanner Creek.


Laryssa-5 said...

Thankful for those in His service who have a gift of affirmation! It is sorely needed by many fact, most people I know could use affirmation daily! =) Blessings to you for sharing such encouraging words!

Rick Blumenberg said...

Thank you for reading and responding with such encouraging words. Thank you also for the good work you do as a missionary to your own family, throughout your community and in the larger Facebook community.

Becky Beach said...

Totally agree. My years working in the educational system, both public & parochial, were years of ministry. I look back with fondness to the relationships I had with parents, children, & educators. It gives me much pleasure to have someone call me Mrs. Beach & then refresh my memory as to who they are when I look at them blankly. I consider myself a minister wherever I go & pray my life is an encouragement to someone.