Romans 1:5-6 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
Paul describes his calling in various ways, but this is certainly a good one. Frankly, the only difference between his calling and that of every believer is the factor of his being called to travel to many different countries. The unifying factor, taken directly from the Great Commission that Jesus delivered just before His ascension, is the matter of calling people to the obedience that comes from faith. The way Jesus put it was, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Not so many people are called to other nations, but all are called to make disciples, and a disciple is going to obey what the Lord has commanded, because of faith. The thing is, for us to make disciples, we need to be disciples. That is the biggest difference between people we read about in the Bible, like Paul, and the average “person in the pew” today. We may believe, or at least say we do, but does that faith produce obedience? We aren’t dogs, but most of us need to go to Obedience School! The thing is, our lack of obedience betrays our lack of faith. If we genuinely believe that the wages of sin is death, (Romans 6:23) but that God loved us enough to send His Son to take those wages on Himself so we could have eternal life, (John 3:16) then our gratitude will compel us to obey such a gracious Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:14) Failure to obey God means that we really don’t believe Him. The devil is constantly bombarding us with lies. “Did God really say …?” (Genesis 3:1) We have to be committed to obedience in order to stand against him. (James 4:7) When we have that commitment, we will not only resist the devil and be obedient to God, we will make disciples for Christ.
This certainly applies to me! Whether I am a missionary or not is debatable, since I serve in the nation where I was born, but my parents were certainly missionaries, and the Great Commission has been operative in my family for a long time. However, I haven’t been the most efficient at making disciples! That is an issue for everyone serving in Japan, but God is the final Judge, and I’m not to make excuses. I am to be personally obedient to the Lord and I am to call others to do likewise. I am not to back off from correcting or admonishing out of a fear of man, but I must always speak the truth in love. I tend to be somewhat of a perfectionist, which can be a real problem when it manifests itself in totally nonessential things. How the chairs are lined up in the sanctuary has nothing to do with whether the person arranging them is a disciple of Jesus Christ! I also need to make a clear distinction between obedience to Christ and obedience to me. If I am not following Christ myself, I pray that others would not be obedient to me! I need to walk in full humility, while at the same time being aware that God does indeed speak through me with some regularity, through no special quality of my own. As Jesus said, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:10)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your grace and patience in using me in spite of myself. Help me be the faithful disciple that You desire, so that many may indeed be brought into the obedience that comes from faith, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!