image of Oakstone Community Church, Wildomar, CA
Since moving back to our hometown of Temecula three weeks ago, we’ve enjoyed savoring the flavors of local churches. Some pretty large, some pretty small, some in the middle, but the message today at Oakstone Community Church caused me to think. Quite a bit. The text began with 2 Timothy 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…” but then the pastor pointed out the difference from Paul’s first letter to Timothy, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the command of God…”
A change of just one word, but with significant import. God willed that Paul be an apostle, from 2 Timothy, but he also commanded that role. The two terms seem equated. Or, God’s will for us tends not to be a suggestion, a desire, a hope, but a command. Or, if we choose to follow Jesus, then we need to follow his will as his commands. Whatever they are. Wherever they lead. Paul himself expressed that degree later in the book, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure” (2 Timothy 4:6). Within a short time, Paul was beheaded.
How far did Paul follow God’s will, God’s command? To the very end. Honestly, that challenges and frightens me. How far am I willing to go to follow the one whom I say I follow?
But, let’s be clear. We follow HIS will, not ours. And it must be God’s will. I’ve found his general will for all includes two primary categories. First, that we be in relationship with him (check out Matthew 18:14 and John 17:3), and that we be in the process of being transformed into his image (take a look at 1 Thessalonians 4:3). And, the latter includes serving, ministering, and making a positive impact for the kingdom of God (Ephesians 4:11-13).
So, have you thought of what God wills you to do for his kingdom? What gifts and talents and interests do you possess that could be used for spiritual impact? Let’s reword that. What does God command you to do for his kingdom? That changes the calculus, doesn’t it?
As I enter retirement, with more time and hopefully more maturity, what does God want me to do for him? For you, whether your stage of life is in school, in work, or in retirement, what does he command you to do? Think about that. Pray about that. And follow.
Kick Starting the Application
What gifts and talents and interests do you have that could be used for impacting others spiritually? Are you using them? How much (or little?). Why or why not? Do you view using them as a command from God? Why or why not? When thinking of this as a command, does it change how you view this issue?