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Monday, April 13, 2015

Standing in the Marketplace




"And about the eleventh hour He went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing idle all day?' They said to Him, ' Because no one hired us.' He said to them, ' You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive." Matthew 20:6-7

We know that these verses are talking about the world as God's vineyard the mission field and laborers being sent out to reap. I would like to look at the men mentioned in the verses above. The day was half-gone and they had not heard the call for workers. Why were they late? Did they sleep late? Did they have other jobs? Either way, they were unavailable. This is a picture of the present state of the church. We are standing idle in the marketplace, waiting to be hired. This article is for those still waiting on their call.
The days of D.L. Moody, Brother Bryan and others have passed. No longer is it easy for the clergy to enter the workplaces and minister to the laborers. With the fear of religious harassment and insurance liability the doors to the marketplace have almost closed. Who then will reach these souls that labor their days away? Will they seek out our churches on Sunday, for some the only day off they have for their families? Do they have the time or energy to make a mid-week service? The numbers say "No". Who will reach them? The Christian that is full of motivational teachings urging them to reach out and work their way to the top of their potential, where they will have influence. Then they can be a light on a hill. Or should I say Ladder? I am not saying they cannot be used. They have and they will. But I speak from experience when I say that the one with his sites on that top run had better be sure that's where the Lord wants him. I gave an employee new to the management world a hard-learned lesson. To be management he must realize that everything he does and says becomes a reflection of the company you have chosen to take responsibility for. Even the way he reacts to co-workers after hours is not his own. So for the Christian seeking a place in management, he had better make sure that his faith and job could co-exist. Can you fire an employee that you have been witnessing to, and still maintain the witness? You must choose your priority, your position or souls. Or can they be one in the same?

How about the Christian that is trying to solve all of his ethical problems and believes he cannot be a witness until he is the best worker in his field? God can and will use the perfect employee. Each of us strives for Holiness in Christ. But just being the best worker is not enough. When the Lord started dealing with me about witnessing in the workplace, I searched everywhere for resources. Most of what I found was advice to be the best worker your boss could have. Be on time every day, stay busy and productive, do your work without complaining, be honest ...etc. I have had many workers with these qualities and they were not Christians. These things should be fruit of our lives and not something we must work hard at obtaining. We should not have to be told to "Work as unto the Lord". People may not notice our witness if we do these things, but they will definitely receive a witness if we don't. There is a place for this, but don't rely on them for your complete witness.

Or how about the one that believes he must develop a relationship with his co-workers and his life will be his witness and there isn't a need to speak? Relationships are needed for an effective witness but not to be relied on completely. God can and will use these, but He commanded us to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel". Yes I have heard it all my life. "Our lives preach". But we must add words to our lives, and relationships, in order to be complete.

Back to the question, who can reach the workers in the marketplace? I am persuaded that the Lord is calling for those late comers standing idle in the marketplace to go on into the fields, it's not too late. I believe He is looking for men and women that hear His call to become missionaries. Maybe they owe too many bills to be free. Maybe they are paying child support from bad marriages before they got saved and have this responsibility until the children are 18 years old. Maybe they have health problems that keep them from traveling to other countries. God is calling them to reap in His fields right here in the United States, The workplace, where the clergy cannot go.

He is calling for people who will take up the workplace as their mission field. They will work at the task just like we expect our overseas missionaries to work at theirs. Not to seek jobs or positions where they get the best pay or recognition, but for the ability to reach more people of the greatest need. For years the laity movement has tried to motivate the people to join in the work, but still maintain that the clergy are the ones that are "Full Time" in the ministry. God is calling people to enter the ministry full time through the workplace. Your pastor or denomination may not see you as called, but the Caller knows better. And He is the one who sets the wages.

He's calling for the person who will take a thankless job at a processing plant, which is noted, for the hardest work and the lowest pay. Just so they can reach the low-income families of their town. That is our mission field of today. This is being called the Fourth Frontier by people in the Faith@Work Movement. Who will take a job at a cigar plant just to be exposed to the lost? Who will take a job that requires Sunday work in order to reach the unchurched? And who is so bold as to get a job as a bartender, just so they could reach their town's outcast. These may be extreme moves to make, but most people are in the jobs that the Lord wants them in. They just need to hear their call to it. If you cannot be satisfied in your position, even after deciding to do it for the Lord, then it is time for a move. I hired a brother one time that was called to the mission field overseas. He worked with me until he could hear where the Lord wanted him. It did not take a large degree of discernment to know when it was time for him to go. He was stressed and unfit for any more work. He could do nothing else but "GO". So no one needs to fear that if they take a "regular job", that they may lose their "sense of mission". The Lord will not allow someone he intends to use on the foreign mission field to stay in the marketplace forever. Many have stayed when they were supposed to "GO", and the Lord has sent their jobs overseas instead.

If you are called out, then you will go in God's time. Until then the Vineyard owner is looking for those idle in the marketplace. He has a job for you. I would not belittle the great need of foreign missions. Their need is so much greater than ours in the United States, but we are missing a great training ground for our troops heading to the fields of the world. I have a vision of persons unable to "Go" now because of restrictions on their lives. But God is calling them to the workplace and not to be idle waiting on a call. In the workplace they will train for their service to foreign lands. Where in America can you get cross-cultural exposure like that in the marketplace? Try factory vending machine food, roasted grubs may not be that bad. I'm not against training schools; they are very much needed. But they need to incorporate the workplace as part of their training. A person needs just as much faith to support them in a job as the one that depends on others for support. Many people are missing a perfect training ground in the marketplace. With this, I end by saying, "The Owner of the vineyard is asking, 'Why do you stand idle, there is plenty of work for all. There is no unemployment in the Kingdom of God.'"
Original posted 12/03/2004

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