What is success in the Kingdom of God? What does success look like?
Completing Our Calling
In a certain context --- "Having completed the work You gave me to do." John 17:4
Jesus did not see this life as a collection of activities but a certain ministry to complete --- and He finished it. Paul also lived like that. Paul was a very purposeful man --- lived his life in the light of ultimate purpose. Not according to convenience or self-interest. To be successful must have the sense of strong purpose and hardly anything else.
Gladys Alylward, was a servant, a maid and uneducated. She didn't appear to have what it takes but she had a strong sense of purpose. Went to a travel agent and found the cheapest way to travel from London to China --- £42.10 by train. Crossed Russia in a civil war and finally got to China after the lady who invited her had died --- but God used her greatly. One quality she had --- strong sense of ultimate purpose. It was more than enough.
Paul was similar, except well educated and with a rich family and many other things going for him. In his personal life he had godliness --- Philippians 3:12---14 - yet gave everything up for the sublime privilege of knowing Christ.
Because we are needy, we press in to God but after a while we forget the abyss and we become more stabilised and it is easier until we let go. People have plateau-ed but that is a terrible tragedy. Have you lost it? Paul was always forgetting what was behind and pressing for more.
Conformity to Christ
Romans 8:29 Be conformed to Christ's image.
Murderer? " I am not a murderer, it's just what I do". NO, there is no separation between what we are and what we do. 1 Corinthians 9:22---27 "that we might save some." In baseball we are supposed to hit something when we swing. It is not how many pitches you have faced. Possible to have prayer meetings and sermons about mission and think we are doing missions but there is a finish line. If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there but you'll never know when you get there!
Paul didn't judge his life by his pleasure or fulfilment but, "I hit the target in Athens at al. I did what God asked and finished the race He set before me." Romans 15:15,16 Ultimate purpose in life is to be a minister of Christ. He was moved by the desire to please the Father though bringing the church to the unreached. His whole life wasn't about whether he was going to be blessed by God. Wasn't consumed with money, fame or safety. He was content.
Confusion About His Guidance
Paul seems wonderful but there is some confusion about his guidance. He was temporarily frustrated by Satan. 1Thessalonians 2:17 Satan stopped him. I would question his motive if it wasn't in the Bible. But, he finished the race.
Confusion in His Direction
Acts 16:6---10 Paul was 'kept from preaching in Asia'. Spirit of Jesus didn't allow him. If he didn't have any clear guidance he kept on going.
"I have a real struggle with knowing what to do?" E-mail gets clogged up all the time with things to do. I'm not that sensitive to the invisible world. Encouraged by Paul's example. Conflicting guidance in Paul's life. Acts 20:22---24 Compelled by Holy Spirit going to Jerusalem Paul always had the ultimate life purpose --- the family business --- in mind. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on and that was said in every city.
Ptolemais in Acts "Tried his hands and feet." Paul's own team appealed to him not to go up to Jerusalem. The apostles didn't have a crystal clear access to God. In fact nearly everybody seems to have been confused about short term guidance.
2 Corinthians 11:22 Much suffering is the context. Danger, danger, danger. Now missionaries are good whiners --- trying to enhance their own heroism. It is always hardest here and it is the throne of Satan. When you are tempted to complain --- compare your life to Paul's. We don't have it that tough.
Terriffic confusion, guidance and great suffering and resistance to what he wants to do --- even the apostles not fond of what he was doing. How did he hang on and keep on going? What was the difference in his life? He had defined his life time goal.
Many people try a bit of this and a bit of that until they get bored and God "calls" them to something else. During the very difficult early days of building the base in Brazil 12 hours a day, 5
½ days a week the numbers went from 96 to 32. And no one left because it was hard work, they left because God called them to do things like; "My mother loves me and is blessed when I eat her food."
And in churches --- people competing for the paid ministerial places --- God is guiding them? and what about the billion unreached Muslims?
It is very difficult to judge between the importance of the flesh and the promptings of the Holy Spirit! We need to be more like Paul --- didn't need to worry about a slip up because he knew which direction he was going in. Paul was very discouraged at times but he didn't give up. He had confusion about short term guidance, no food at times --- but what preserved him was he knew not what his next direction was but what his life was about. He weighed his next decision in the light of his life time guidance. How, when things do bad, do you judge what to do? Need to know what your life is about, not just what is your next activity.
Romans 15:8 Paul's satisfaction and location weren't an issue, the goal was. We need more global strategies for reaching People Groups --- it is the same people in university in England and India. Start with the real goals and live where you need to, not vice versa.
Appeal --- take time to develop the vision before God and then run with the vision God has for you.
It is so easy to confuse God's word with other inputs. Know your final destination.
Jim Stier, Athens 1999
Measuring Job Performance
There are also many tools for measuring how well we have done when we have clarified the destination/vision.