Many of us get caught in the trap of having a Church vision rather than a Kingdom vision. Jesus only spoke three times about the church but many, many times about the Kingdom.
A church vision is often limited to what happens in the building and has very little to do with what happens outside the church building. A church vision is often about converts and numbers.
A Kingdom vision includes the flourishing of all things – people, animals, all of creation. A Kingdom vision is about holistic discipleship. As we are part of the Kingdom of God, we are to help to bring the Kingdom of Heaven on earth through restoration and reconciliation.
A Kingdom vision reminds every person that we all have a general call to serve God full time, and that is our purpose. We are all fulltime ministers with the fulltime job to glorify God in all spheres of life.
But our specific call is very different from person to person. Our specific call relates to our unique placement and spheres of influence, in our homes, communities, workplaces, and churches.
The prophets Jeremiah and Daniel can help us to understand this better. Both are prophets during Old Testament times, both have the same general call to serve God full-time, but both have very different specific placements.
Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” This is a very direct placement and calling for Jeremiah. How affirming it must have been to hear those words!
Daniel’s placement is a bit different. In Daniel 1:1-7, we see that Daniel was taken into captivity and then selected into the King’s service based on his looks and health. He spends his life in captivity, serving four different kings. Daniel’s placement seems to come about as an accident of war. Daniel does not seem to be placed…but rather, displaced.
I wonder if Daniel ever thought, “Jeremiah heard God’s voice call him. I heard no such voice. Jeremiah’s call made him a prophet. My circumstances made me a civil servant. I guess God hasn’t called me into ministry.”
I wonder how many of us have believed the same for our own placement. Not placed, but displaced – an accident of birth, culture, happenstance.
But let’s see what the truth is from the book of Daniel:
Daniel 1 – Daniel is challenged to eat and drink the King’s food. He respectfully says no, and God rewards his obedience with the ability to interpret dreams.
Daniel 2 – The King has a dream and wants the wise men to not only interpret the dream but also tell what the dream was! Thankfully, because of Daniel’s earlier obedience, he has this ability. The response from the King is found in verse 47, “Truly your god is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings…!”
Daniel 3 – All people are commanded to worship the statue of Nebuchadnezzar, but Daniel’s colleagues are caught worshiping God and are thrown into the fiery furnace. God saves them from death, and the testimony from the King is found in verse 28-29, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego…I make this decree that [no-one] speak a word against their god…There is no other god who can rescue like this!”
Daniel 4 – Another dream with the awkward foretelling of the King grazing like a cow for seven periods of time. Daniel interprets this dream…it comes true…yet when his sanity returns, he doesn’t punish Daniel, but rather says in verse 37, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true and he is able to humble the proud.”
Daniel 5 – Daniel is now serving under King Belshazzar when a message appears on the wall and only Daniel can interpret it. It has a message of doom for the King – again, not an easy message to deliver. Daniel delivers it anyway, and the King promotes him to be the third highest ruler in the land. And the king dies that night.
Daniel 6 – Daniel is now serving under King Darius, who is tricked into giving a decree that no one should worship any god but the King or be thrown into the den of lions. Daniel does not obey, worships God, is saved from the lions, and the King says in verses 26 and 27, “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth.”
Do you hear how God was present in Daniel’s placement? This was no accident!
But most of Daniel’s work was as an administrator, overseeing many other leaders, taking care of many responsibilities that were probably mundane and maybe even boring. And he did it for the people that had taken his people into captivity. He spent most of his time carrying out the earthly king’s business. He did it with excellence.
It seems he did his work as worship. Daniel was not involved in a church ministry but a Kingdom ministry.
Each of us have a general call to serve God and be fulltime ministers. And each of us has a specific call – our placement – which varies from person to person. But in those places, we live out a Kingdom ministry.
In these places, we have the opportunity to bring order to the world, through our work. We provide for the things that people need. We bring joy and beauty to those placements. And we help to release potential of people and things, depending on where we work.
May we continue to see God at work wherever we are placed, and may His Kingdom come as we avail ourselves to Him.