Don’t worry if nobody knows about you. Don’t worry if your ministry seems to be slim pickings. Don’t worry if your web traffic is quite low. Don’t worry that you are never invited to speak or share your story. Don’t worry if hardly anyone seems to know that you even exist. Worry instead about things like this: Am I pleasing my Lord? Am I being faithful in what he has called me to do?
Our lives as believers matter more than we might think:
Something caught my attention moments ago, and as is often the case, it is now being spun into a whole new article! In his 1988 book Confessions of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim, at one point Malcolm Muggeridge is discussing Mother Teresa and the impact she had on him. What really stood out to me is this:
“I could go on and on enumerating the saintly qualities in Mother Teresa. Jean Pierre de Caussade writes of how, all the time, the sequel to the New Testament is being written by saintly souls in the succession of the prophets and apostles, not in canonical books, but by continuing the history of divine purpose with their lives.”
I quite liked that idea of a sequel to the New Testament. Not of course as further inspired and inerrant writings: the biblical canon is now closed. But in the sense that all believers play a part in the ongoing story of God’s work in the world. That is something we all need to keep in mind.
It is not just little old me, but God working throughout history, using little old me – and you. We are all part of a much bigger and much grander story. As such, there are no people of no consequence in God’s Kingdom. We all have a role to play. We all have a job to do which we need to get on with.
I have said similar things before. For example, I have often pointed out the start of the book of Acts. Luke wrote Acts, and it continues on from his gospel. In Acts 1:1 we read this: “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.”
The implication seems to be that the rest of this book will deal with what Jesus continues to do and teach. Yet in verses 9-11 we read about Jesus being taken up into heaven. So what gives? Actually, all that we read about in the rest of the book IS the continuation of the ministry of Jesus. But it is Christians who carry on the work that Christ began.
Sure, we contribute nothing to the work of Christ at Calvary to deal with our sin and alienation from God. But proclaiming that good news, and sharing in the other works of Christ, is something all believers can and should do. So in that sense we do indeed continue not only the story of the gospels but the story of the New Testament.
So we can say that your story and mine are a sort of sequel to what is found in the New Testament. It is a follow-up to what we read about there, and by God’s grace we can also do great things for God, just as the early disciples did. Our stories contribute to what is still the continuing great work of God on planet earth.
I often tell my students that if we put Christ first in all things and seek to faithfully serve him in whatever way he calls us, that if the Lord should tarry, and in the years ahead historians – or at least church historians – write about our times, we may find ourselves being written up.
Just as a handful of young college kids of a few centuries ago who loved God supremely went on to change the world and are now the subject of countless books by secular and Christian historians (I refer to George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley), perhaps our stories as well will one day be told. I discuss these three here: billmuehlenberg.com/1998/03/02/%e2%80%9cnormal%e2%80%9d-christianity/
And this is not some ego trip or matter of pride. Our aim in life should be to please Christ. And if we seek to do that with the Spirit’s enabling, we will be making waves: we will be influencing our culture; we will be making a difference for the Kingdom.