Working for God Inc.

 “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few”
(Matthew 9:37, RSV).

“They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:18-19, RSV).

God Inc.How would you like to work for God? He’s the greatest entrepreneur and He owns a company you could call God Inc. His purpose is to reproduce and produce. What are the requirements of the job you might ask? Well, consider the example of the apostle Paul.

Chief Sinner Recruited as Chosen Instrument

Early on in God’s church, Stephen, a man filled with the Holy Spirit was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Court in Jerusalem. He was accused of blasphemy against Moses and God. After several false witnesses were presented to testify against him, he was convicted and sentenced to death by stoning. His testimony described the many sins the Jewish people committed against God. This did not help his cause. In the crowd was Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul (Acts 6-8). It is thought that Saul had a hand in Stephen’s death, but regardless, Jesus would soon refer to Saul as His chosen instrument (Acts 9:15). Paul would later refer to himself as the chief sinner (1 Timothy 1:15). Yet, many who have examined Paul’s life consider him a hero, exemplifying the perfect pattern of a good corporate employee who once again will work for God Inc. in the Kingdom of God.

However, questions often asked about Paul include: How does the “chief sinner” get recruited as God’s chosen instrument? Why does Jesus openly choose Saul as His instrument on the road to Damascus when Saul has not yet repented? Why does Saul first receive the Holy Spirit with a measure of God’s power and healing from Ananias (Acts 9:17-18); become a new creature by means of water baptism (Acts 9:18); and then, openly repent of his unbelief (Acts 9:20)? The usual pattern is: repentance, water baptism, and receipt of the Holy Spirit by laying-on-of-hands (Acts 2:38).

The simple answer: Jesus is a teaching sovereign pragmatist. He selected Saul because He chooses whom He will (John 15:16). He chose Saul to demonstrate His perfect patience for an example to unbelievers (1 Timothy 1:16). Jesus also illustrates His pragmatism by choosing the most qualified. Saul had spent many years studying the law with a revered teacher Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) and had been trained as a Pharisee (Philemon 3:4-7). He knew the Torah and was well qualified; and now with direct instruction from Jesus to advance and describe the spirit of the law (Acts 9:3-9), he is commissioned by the sovereign act of Christ to go and take this gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).

In short, Jesus saw potential in Saul, as He does with all of us (Isaiah 55:8; Isaiah 46:10; Jeremiah 1:5; John 10:10; 1 Tim.othy1:15-16; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 7:23) and moved quickly, recruiting the most suited candidate for the job. Paul was subjected to a long and hard interview (three days of blindness) to ensure that the fit was good for both. After this, Paul was introduced to the rest of the staff in Damascus. Ananias was one of Paul’s first contacts. Now, with this done, the real work could begin.

The Company Man

The Company Man

Usually, the term ‘company man’ refers to someone exhibiting a high degree of loyalty to his employer, and exceptional faith in the company product. He is extremely dedicated and perseveres to advance the aims of the company. In 1980s, North American business schools taught students to admire the ‘dogged’ determination and loyalty of the Japanese company man who sacrificed everything, sometimes even family, for the company’s goals. Jesus said it differently,

“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me… he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me… and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39, RSV).

Paul was a good company man. His mission was to spread the gospel successfully throughout the Roman Empire. The book of Acts details Paul’s work for God Inc. Paul made three missionary journeys to Asia Minor. Two of them were to Greece and his last to Rome, where he was allegedly beheaded during the reign of Nero. During these missions, he led others to the truth of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:13-52). In addition, he healed the sick (Acts 14:8-10); drove out demons from the possessed (Acts 16:16-18); converted his jailer (Acts 16:25-34); raised the dead to life (Acts 20:7-12); and preached salvation through Jesus Christ to both the Sanhedrin and the Roman authorities (Acts 21-26). At the end of his journeys, but before he was sent to Rome, both the Jewish and Roman civil authorities had privately found him innocent of all accusations (despite the lies). But, because he appealed to Caesar, he was sent to Rome (Acts 26:30-32, Acts 27-28).

Paul also had many hardships. He endured bitter disputes with other believers over the need for circumcision (Acts 15:1-29) and choice of missionary companions (Acts 15:36-41). Paul was also flogged and jailed (Acts 16:22-24). On the journey to Rome, Paul was shipwrecked (Acts 27:21-44) and bitten by a poisonous snake although he did not suffer harm (Acts 28:1-6). However, throughout all of his work and hardships, Paul remained true to his mission. Amazingly, he maintained loyalty to Jesus and his witness to the truth. How many people in any activity today can say that? Underlying all of this was a deep and unshakeable faith in the gospel message and a willingness to exercise all of the tools of the trade: faith, prayer, fasting, and thankfulness as a workman not ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15), putting on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:11). As Jesus’ chosen instrument, God’s Spirit worked even greater within Paul. The gifts of the Holy Spirit such as healing, miracle working, teaching etc. became more apparent in his life (Hebrews 2:4; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:27-31). The benefits also included the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-24), and the peace of God (Philemon 4:6-7). For Paul, eternal life would be the eventual result of sowing to the spirit and not the flesh (Galatians 6:8-9).

Paul said it this way, “… forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philemon 3:13-14, RSV). Paul was running a race to win a valuable prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-2). I suppose you could say Paul was working with God Inc. for the long haul.

The Corner Office

The Corner Office

What is the reward for a lifetime of work at God Inc.? What was Paul’s reward for successfully running this race?

If God’s Holy Spirit is leading you, the first reward is the fruit of the Spirit and internal peace and joy—God’s peace and joy (Galatians 5:22-24). The opposite of this fruit are the works of the flesh: adultery, fornication, lasciviousness (Galatians 5:19-21). In addition, there may be other temporary rewards in this life (Malachi 3:10-12) some of which are spiritual in nature (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).

During his life, Paul certainly seemed to have peace despite the circumstances (Acts 16:22-25). Paul also received many spiritual gifts from God (Acts 20:7-12, 28:1-6).

However, the rewards of this life are not the main objective of an employee at God Inc. Paul was working for more than a paycheque in the present. In the parlance of corporate speak, Paul was vying for the ‘corner office’ of a future position, in the true life, eternal life, which is to come (1 Timothy 6:18-19). Jesus said it this way: He was going to prepare a place (or reward) for His disciples in His father’s house where there would be many rooms (John 14:1-3). Some have taken the word room to mean an office or position of power in the Kingdom, which is in sync with the reward of rulership promised specifically to faithful followers of God (Revelations 3:21-22). Of course, underlying these two rewards is the more important promise of eternal life.

However, Jesus also warned against a less than first-rate effort. Like any good employer, God expects our best effort all day, every day, as He illustrates in two parables. The first compares the works of the five wise and five foolish maidens as they labour on behalf of God (Matthew 25:1-13).

This parable demonstrates the need to keep a diligent hand at the till so the reward of rulership (and eternal life) can be obtained.

Secondly, the parable of the talents, told almost the same thing (Matthew 25:14-30). All workers, no matter what their assignment, skill set or opportunities—great or small, are expected to produce. Those who do not produce are cast out. Are these not the lessons that Paul tried to demonstrate by his hard work and the life he lived?

One day soon, when Jesus returns, we will understand the extent of Paul’s prize. He, like the other saints, will rule in the millennial Kingdom with Jesus.

Now Hiring

The path Paul took was extraordinary. However, as Jesus said, there are many rooms in His Father’s Kingdom. He also said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.” (Matthew 9:37, RSV). There is still a tremendous need for more employees at God Inc., so how about you?

To summarize, all of God’s workers are called according to His purposes. We are asked to respond quickly and favourably to the prize of this higher calling “of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philemon 3:14). The first act is usually repentance. We work for God according to the measure of faith and talents given to us as a gift from God (Romans 12:3-8). In addition, we are told that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). When we do this, the rewards of eternal life and a high office in God’s Kingdom are ours.

When you work for any company today, the pattern is the same. No one attends a job interview or applies for a job without faith—knowing and believing that this is what they want. No one is given a job interview, and a job, unless they are first called and then chosen. In God’s company, this sometimes means a person who has or who through growth and training (repentance and gifting), can develop the skills (talents), and work habits (prayer, fasting and Bible study) to do the job. No one remains on the job unless they diligently produce results which are of the quantity and quality expected by their employer (recall Paul’s example vs. the example the five foolish maidens). Generally speaking, no one obtains an important position, measure of power or access to resources within a company unless they work long, hard and faithfully. Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder and so is an employer’s judgment of a worker’s value.

What About You?

Just a final thought. Presently, there are many vacant positions at God Inc. We are witnessing the start of a great falling away from Christianity. God is calling many people in this world and some of them are your loved ones. God is looking for a few good men and women to rekindle the fire in His church, especially where many pews are empty. God’s sheep have strayed and are now lead away by many other things.

Perhaps you were created for just a time as this. God once said, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…” (Isaiah 46:10, RSV). He also said,

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

So what about you? Is Jesus calling you through His Word, to work at God Inc.? And if He is; will you answer the call?

God Bless you as you consider working for God Inc.

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