(The first of four blogs from a sermon I preached at Rock Point Church, Doylestown, PA, after returning from India in 2017.)
Every pastor’s conference in India since 2011has concluded with a session on Spiritual Warfare. That’s been 83 times I taught it and led in prayer for deliverance. And each time I use the same passage – Mark 5 about the demonized man in the Gadarenes. It’s a perfect example of how demons work and showcases Jesus’ power over them. The story has an unusual twist at the end because, when the man wants to leave everything to travel with and learn from Jesus, he is told to stay where he is (Mark 5:18-20). I ask why Jesus wouldn’t let him come with Him to help minister to others. The answer is that Jesus wanted him to minister right there, where he knew everyone and they knew him. I encourage them to stay faithful where God has put them.
The same is true for God’s people wherever they live. Does He want everyone to be a missionary and share Jesus in a different culture and language? Clearly the answer is “No.” God calls everyone to serve Him, but He doesn’t call everyone to leave their home and go to another location to serve. That is only a small minority – a very important minority but nevertheless a small one.
In some way we are all called to leave the culture we grew up in to follow Him, for when we come to Him we become “strangers and pilgrims” passing through this world and it is no longer our home (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). So in that way we are all in a ‘foreign’ culture, but most of us are called to stay and minister to the same culture in which we grew up. We are all called (Romans 8:28) and sent (“apostle” means “sent one”), but some are sent to their own neighborhood while others are sent to the other side of the world.
The church in Antioch was a strong, healthy church in the center of Christianity in its day. They had 5 good leaders. From these 5 God called Paul and Barnabas to leave and go to other places to minister. He called the other 3 to stay right there and keep ministering (Acts 13:1-3). All are called, some to stay and others to go.
1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia
1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles,
Hebrews 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Do you ever feel out of place in this world, like you don’t really belong or fit in? Are you looking for something better and more meaningful and substantial? That’s good! That’s how a believer should feel in this world.
Are you aware that God has called you to go back into that world to share the hope we have in Him? Don’t try to find a place for yourself in this world, encourage others to follow you to a better one!