Recently I was visiting with a friend who operates a small business that has been in his family for quite a number of years. He was talking about some of the challenges of running a small business and that it seemed to him that many things got harder all the time. In the conversation he told one story that will serve as a springboard for the thoughts I want to share about the kingdom of God. He said, he often became frustrated because people who worked for him would take company time to carry on other kinds of service or activities that really had little to nothing to do with the company business. I think the reason he told me was that some of the workers were using company time, time on the clock to carry on work for the church. He is a Christian and certainly wants to support the Lord’s work. But he made the comment, I feel horrible getting on to someone for working on church things instead of doing the job they are being paid to do. He said one worker in particular would sit at her desk preparing to teach a class she had each Wednesday night. When he mentioned to her that he felt that she should be doing things like that on her own time, not company time she was being paid for, she had responded, “I thought since you claim to be a Christian you would be happy that I was spending time preparing to teach this children’s class each week.” He said, “I felt awful about the whole thing. But I still don’t think it is right for people to take the time I’m paying for them to do business, and for them to use it to do personal or church things. What do you think?”
Some years back I had a faithful member of the body of Christ who owned a business to say, he was reluctant to hire fellow church members to work for him, that it seemed they almost always took advantage of being a fellow member of Christ’s body to do their own thing instead of really being devoted workers on the job. We somewhere along the way have failed in teaching people what the godly thing to do is, when we are working for another person on a job. Paul’s challenge to the Ephesians was that they should not serve only when the boss is looking but work wholeheartedly as to The Lord. He said to Titus that the slaves adorned the teaching of The Lord by how they worked on their jobs each day. A lazy, excuse making employee is a horrible witness for Jesus. If we wish to be His witness we need to be the best workers the company has ever seen, seeing all efforts being done for The Lord not for men.
Think about this point from another vantage point. What is the work of the kingdom that the follower of Christ must make certain they are doing? We just as often become confused on what God’s work for us really is, in His kingdom. We go from determining that if we aren’t doing some public job for him we aren’t really at his job, to wishing he would accept as kingdom work, every activity I get pleasure from doing.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-5 Paul’s charge to Timothy speaks to this point. “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge. Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situation, endure hardship, do he work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
There are multiple ways one can serve in God’s kingdom and be effective. God certainly gives us different gifts for us to use in accomplishing His work. But God’s factory is producing a particular product. If I work for a company that produces Jet engines, I could do a fantastic job, producing broom handles, perhaps even the finest broom handles in the world, but I would not be fulfilling the mission, dreams and goals of God’s kingdom. To effectively work in his kingdom we must be producing the products God’s kingdom is producing in an excellent way. Notice as Paul anticipated the coming return of Jesus to examine the work being now produced in his kingdom, the things he reminded Timothy that he must be about.
The king’s business is always tied to “Preach the word”. As an ambassador for Jesus, Paul laid out the charge to Timothy. But what if the time doesn’t seem right? Preach the word in season and out, whether people like it or not, whether they are drawn to it or not, our job is still the same to preach the word or message of Jesus all the time. Look at the aspects of preaching in an effective way: “Correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” Correct preaching doesn’t depend on any particular method. It depends on the right content. It involves preaching in a way that corrects people from sin, rebukes those with wrong attitudes, ideas and actions and encourages the ones that are trying hard and may be discouraged. No matter what the reception, we must endure in preaching God’s word to all people because that is the kings business.
The reception to the message of the king is different in different ages, among different people and at different times in their lives. But even if they turn away completely and go searching for a softer, easier message that doesn’t demand change, our job as servants of the king is to “Keep our head in all situation, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
Kingdom business is challenging, life changing and powerful. It blesses the lives of the ones served but just as much it blesses the lives of those who serve. In a busy life it is imperative to keep clearly before us what the kingdom of The Lord is producing and stay on task.