I am struck tonight by the great variety of people and ministries that make up our world. Our church supports a number of missionaries each month, and one of the couples showed up tonight virtually without warning. He spoke about the ministry that he and his wife share to their particular constituents in their field, and I was intrigued by how much we are each of us so specifically located.
We are told in the Bible that the church is like a body, made up of many parts, each with its own unique purpose. We are told that the church body would be less – significantly less – if any part were missing or failed to do its purpose. (How can an ear say to an eye “I don’t need you” or a foot say to a hand “away with you, I have no use for you”?) I have almost exclusively thought about this in terms of the local church. I almost said “as a Baptist, I have almost exclusively thought about this in terms of the local church,” but I think it is not so much Baptist or not Baptist as it is that we get caught up in our own place. I do know that I am swayed by the strong Baptist teaching that each local church is a mini Kingdom of God, and so that verse of Scripture applies to the local church. And I have almost always thought of it in terms of the local church.
But not tonight. Tonight, I am awestruck by the great variety of work throughout the Kingdom of God in all of the world. He calls so many people to so many specific tasks. I love the church that I am in, and I think it is a great fit for me. I look at some of the missionaries or other ministers I know or have heard about and think, “I could never do that.” And I am so grateful that I don’t have to! That I am made for here and now and where I am, and not for any other. That I can be assured that my strength as part of the larger body is precisely where I am. That is a comforting and peace-giving thought. And it allows me to live even more deliberately in the now, devoting myself even more fully to this place. I have a purpose. God created this body called the church, he formed me as part of it, and he has put me precisely where I need to be. I am no longer waiting to live, but I am living on purpose. Or is that living in purpose….?