CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Christian Ministry, Vocation, and the Glory of God

Apr 4, 2019

Christians can often have some rather cloudy thinking when it comes to issues such as our calling as believers, Christian ministry, and what it means to glorify God. As to the issue of bringing glory to God, there are some unbiblical extremes we must avoid.

On the one hand, some believers think that if they are just nice guys, smile a lot, and seek to never offend anybody, they are glorifying God and being terrific Christians. Well, not quite! But on the other hand, there are some who think that unless we quote John 3:16 in everything we say or do, we are not glorifying and not being a good Christian witness. Not quite again.

That we should always seek to glorify God is something Scripture often speaks to. Consider 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Or Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

But some believers seem to think that unless they are doing something like standing on a street corner handing out gospel tracts, they are not really doing the Lord’s work, they are not involved in Christian ministry, and they are not glorifying the Lord.

Sorry, but doing whatever God has called us to do faithfully and fervently is Christian work and brings glory to God. For example, I know of homemakers who struggle greatly just to be a good mother and wife. One I know of has all sorts of debilitating health issues, has a special needs son, and has an unbelieving husband.

The world does not know about her, and most Christians would never have heard of her. But I know about her, and more importantly, God knows all about her. She always has a smile on her face and you never hear her complaining. She is doing it tough – big time, but she is a wonderful Christian witness.

I tell you: her testimony is incredible, and the glory she is bringing to God is profound. She does not quote John 3:16 every time she opens her mouth, but her life is a living epistle of the gospel of God. God bless you sister – you are a champion, more than you might ever realise.

And this is true of so many other believers. A humble janitor in a church who diligently and faithfully washes the floors when the crowds are gone is doing the Lord’s work and is being a great Christian witness. Sure, the pastor gets all the attention, all the fame, all the kudos, and all the praise. But thank God for dedicated janitors as well.

I write all this because yesterday I felt the need to write a piece on the prolife film Unplanned and offer a bit of a defence of it. When I first wrote on the film, I spoke of an attack on it – by all the usual suspects: leftists, atheists, pro-aborts, etc. I did not think I would have to write another piece dealing with all the Christian attacks on it!

My first article is here: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/03/31/the-war-against-unplanned/

And the follow-up piece is this: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/04/03/unplanned-abortion-and-the-gospel/

As I mentioned in the second article, critics who claim the film does not offer a clear gospel message or doesn’t glorify God and the like are quite off base. Um duh… it was NOT meant to be an evangelistic film! And I would have thought that when we stand and fight for the things so very close to the heart of God like the sanctity of life, we ARE glorifying God.

So these armchair critics really don’t seem to get it. This film is one of our most powerful prolife tools in years, and yet some of these critics just want to trash it. Go figure. Some of them have had various theological and doctrinal concerns as to who was involved in the film, etc.

Well, let me say this. Anyone who knows me knows that I very strongly believe that sound doctrine is important, and we need to be careful with what we believe. But there is always a very fine line between being concerned about proper doctrine, being discerning, etc., and being a purist who seeks to be ‘uncontaminated’.

The former is what we should carefully and prayerfully strive for. But the latter we should avoid, as such folks really do look and act just like the Pharisees did. Sadly some of these critics just do not want to be seen to be ‘impure’ or ‘contaminated’ in any way, so they seem to prefer business as usual when it comes to 45-50 million babies a year being slaughtered. It is quite sad actually.

I have written before about this problem with various types of purists. As but one example, we had the same situation when a prolifer ran for the US Presidency some years ago. But because he was also a Mormon, plenty of Christians refused to vote for him.

As an evangelical I am of course fully aware of major theological concerns with this group. But these Christians would rather have the baby-killing, pro-Islam, anti-Christian Obama in office destroying America, instead of having Romney in the White House. I wrote about that at the time. See here: billmuehlenberg.com/2016/04/03/purists-politics-presidents-pharisees-dead-babies/

It is the old problem I have had to deal with time and time again. Sorry, but there are just far too many armchair critics and heresy hunters out there. Yes, doctrine matters as I keep saying. But so too does the sanctity of life. I am willing to work with all sorts of folks to help save the unborn, be they religious or non-religious.

But those matters I have also written about often. See this on co-belligerency: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2010/09/02/on-co-belligerency/

And see this on the worry of heresy hunters: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/04/09/on-heresy-hunters/

But let me finish by getting back to my original theme. Just what does it mean to be a Christian witness? How does all this work when one is a Christian who is a chef or an accountant or a writer or an artist or a musician for example? As I said, we should do all for the glory of God.

If God has gifted you with sporting abilities, you can be a good Christian witness by being the best baseball player you can be. Sure, you will also look for opportunities to share your faith, share your testimony, and so on. But a good Christian baseball player need not shout out John 3:16 every time he steps up to the plate with bat in hand.

As I said in one earlier piece:

Trying to define something like Christian music might be one way to introduce this issue of Christian witness. Just what exactly is Christian music? Is it Christian music when:
-a Christian sings Amazing Grace?
-a non-Christian sings Amazing Grace?
-a Christian plays an instrumental version of Amazing Grace?
-a Christian sings a non-Christian song?

Hopefully you get my drift. I for one do not think a Christian singer has to sing a Christian song or quote the Bible every single time to be called a Christian singer and a Christian witness. In the same way, a Christian barber, a Christian baseball player, or a Christian engineer need not mention Jesus in every breath to be a good Christian witness in his or her profession. Christian witness of course involves words, but it also involves our very life. The way we live will back up – or not back up – our Christian words. So both are important.
billmuehlenberg.com/2015/06/19/talking-about-jesus-what-is-christian-witness-all-about/

Again, we can represent our Lord in so many acceptable and biblical ways. It need not always involve sharing biblical quotes all the time, being a pastor, or serving as an overseas missionary. Yes there is of course a place for all that. But we need a bigger view of our role in the world.

We need to bear in mind the importance of seeing the Lordship of Christ extend to every area of life. Recall the words of the noted Dutch Christian, politician and theologian Abraham Kuyper. Commenting on Psalm 24.1 he said, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

Or as a more recent voice put it, “Christianity is not just involved with ‘salvation’, but with the total man in the total world. The Christian message begins with the existence of God forever, and then with creation. It does not begin with salvation. We must be thankful for salvation, but the Christian message is more than that. Man has a value because he is made in the image of God” (Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible).

Other Christian thinkers have spoken in similar fashion. Luther famously taught about the importance of vocation and Christian calling. He sought to play down the sharp distinction between clergy and laity, and show that ALL believers have an important role to play in Christian work and witness.

Thus he viewed work as not merely a job or an occupation to pay the bills, but as a divine calling. It is a heavenly vocation, something given us from God and for his glory. So again, the committed and diligent dishwasher or cakemaker can just as much bring glory to God as the megachurch pastor or famous Christian leader.

So I for one will give thanks that a solidly pro-life film like Unplanned has been made. Is it perfect? No, neither is any Christian, any church, any pastor, or any theology. But if it helps to save lives from the abortion mills and turns pro-choicers into pro-lifers I will be very grateful indeed, and I will rightly believe that God has been glorified in it all.

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9 Responses to Christian Ministry, Vocation, and the Glory of God

  • Thank you Bill, for the “simple” art explained, namely Graceful glorification of God! It’s in our thanksgiving, that miracle preceds…So by sharing, praying and getting actively involved, that we stand up for anti-abortion…and glorify God…
    Cheers and blessings
    Eric

  • Until all Christians get the message that voting against a Christian (whatever the denomination) is voting for a pagan and as such, we can expect sooner rather than later that we will bow down to pagan worship just as we are doing now with laws such as abortion, adultery and homosexuality which will soon add bestiality (the + after LGBTIQA is for such purpose).
    Glorifying God – and what is that? Does God need glorifying?
    When we speak of Jesus and his works, we rarely consider his works especially when he entered the Temple in Jerusalem and saw how his “fathers house” had become a den of thieves. Was he gentle – No he was not. Thus, to glorify God we must keep his commandments and use our body and all that we claim as our own to sacrifice wherever necessary in God’s name and recognise that all things belong to God and we are entrusted with them (render unto Caesar what is Caesar;s and give to God what belongs to God).
    John Abbott

  • Amen! This is simply the problem with trying to move forward in an imperfect world and this was highlighted to me with the number of conservative parties contesting the NSW election recently and obviously dividing the conservative vote. What we ended up with was a Liberal Party government, which many conservatives are happy about, but fail to notice that our Premier is now an abortion promoting, homosexual “marriage” promoting functionary for these left-wing, social ideas. People have to start to emphasize the greater importance of morality over responsible and less corrupt financial management because we are losing the big picture.

    We are not going to get perfection but when we see the socialist, delusion juggernaut working as it has in Canada https://www.massresistance.org//docs/gen3/18d/Whatcott-BC-Tribunal/ruling.html surely we have to realize we have to do something and start speaking with one voice about the huge problems with sanctioning lies into law as is happening worldwide as law about homosexual “marriage”, “sexual orientation”, “gender identity” and “hate speech” are passed despite being completely illogical and obviously against Godly principles. One of the methods used by this Canadian kangaroo court was to deny any testimony unless someone was an expert on “love” and “hate”. Go figure. Apparently God is not an expert on love and hate, nor the clergy but presumably some indoctrinated, socialist trained academic is. This also goes against the basic principle, that has been part of Western law for ages, as to what a reasonable person would do. Apparently, according to this court, you cannot be reasonable unless you are an avid socialist. Apparently a reasonable person has no interest in what is actually true. Seriously?

    At the same time we are seeing the Labor and Greens parties and the other left leaning politicians here promoting public expenditure for abortion just as we see huge public money being spent daily on the public media propaganda juggernaut.

    These things are the very antithesis of freedom. They are all parts of how ideology is forcing its way over freedom and truth and is using public resources to achieve this. You may be only for small government but it is not going to be achieved as long as we have immoral policies being endlessly promoted and implemented. It takes huge resources to attempt to make lies work and the socialists are doing their best to make sure conservatives pay the bill.

  • Wonderfully said, thank you Bill!

  • >>MR Weeks,
    “Surely we have to realise we have to do something and start speaking with one voice about the huge problems. . .”

    Yes, indeed Mr Weeks you have identified the solution to the problem perfectly. You need to figure out how you could achieve the ‘one voice’. It’s essential when figuring out the solution to this problem to ask how you and I could speak with one voice as therein lays the answer.

    ‘One Voice’ is going to take fantastic organisation skills and the use of technology, but above those things, it will take courage and determination. It can be done as the left are masters at implementing- one voice since if you notice we address their one voice as merely the left.

    You’re so close to the solution that it could be said you are standing on it, it could also be said, so close yet so far.

    Hmm, has the sleeping giant been awoken I wonder?

  • Dear Bill
    Your readers must be on vacation!
    Well written and makes perfect sense.
    God Bless you- your still on the net?
    Cheers Mark Bryant

  • I have met such christians they “talk the christian talk” but fail to “walk the christian walk”. I don’t use bunch of christian words and phrases and I sometime used idioms of the word BUT I think God would rather have a bunch of christians who “walk the walk” but don’t sound like a christian with Jesus, amen, and Hallelujah in practically every conversation or sentence than have a christian who uses all the “right” words but doesn’t walk the walk. there are many pharisees today oh so righteous types who make us all look like killjoys and joyless people who couldn’t go 5 minutes with out saying Jesus.

    I didn’t vote for romney but his mormonism was low on the list. many other reasons existed. I dont think thing would have been much better if better under him in 2012-2016.

  • Michael W,
    spot on re “… this was highlighted to me with the number of conservative parties contesting the NSW election recently and obviously dividing the conservative vote.”

    This is THE problem for Federal elections in Australia. The many small conservative parties shoot themselves in the head, or at least the tongue, by consistently failing to recommend that their supporters preference ALL other conservative parties BEFORE preferencing larger parties. Hence we fail to consolidate/coaltion the conservative values vote – which stays fragmented and often wasted.

    The solution is for Christian voters to preference ALL conservative parties, in order of preference, and so on for the almost-conservative, and finally last preferences for the Labor Green Left ‘progressive’ god-haters.

    But this is not easy! In the Australian Senate it’s hard to rate the 30-40 parties, let alone the 100+ candidates standing for 6 Senate positions in a single electorate. Sadly (cynically?) our electoral system allows voters to only vote for their top 6 preferences. This has disastrous results because conservative parties often recommend only the first 6 preferences, and some only recommend themselves as #1. It’s disastrous because by the time the 6th and last Senators is determined, many of the conservative votes have “exhausted” and so play no part in deciding the last Senator – who will often determines the balance of power.

    To educate conservative voters to make best use of their votes, I’m encouraging development of a Conservative Values Preference Guide for each Senate electorate. This rates parties into 5-ranges, from good to bad conservative values, so that voters will find it much easier to do their own How to Vote guide to fill in the 30-40 preference squares ‘Above The Line’. To see how it works, check out tinyurl.com/ElectoralReformOz. Currently this shows the previous election but will be updated before the May Federal election. Help is needed if we are to do this in time for the next election: people can contact me via info in the tinyurl link.

  • A great example of this can be found on Youtube – check out James White.

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