Tuesday, June 20, 2017

PhD Ministry to Unclean Animals

I have a friend who, several years ago, made the difficult decision to pursue a PhD in a very specific ministry field. After several intense years of study and financial sacrifice, this friend earned a doctorate and then began searching for jobs. After searching and searching, my friend finally took a job as an administrative assistant because available jobs in this very specific field of ministry are few and far between. When conversations occur with my friend about possibly expanding the field of vision, the conversation gets bogged down very quickly. My friend trained for a particular field to work with particular people in a particular way. Now, this very specific field of ministry with these very specific people may be exactly what God has called my friend to do. But I can't help but think, Maybe, you should open yourself up to ministry to people you haven't considered before.

The Apostle Peter had a similar hang-up about ministering only to a specific group of people. Having grown up as a good first century Jew, Peter focused his ministry on the Jews. They were the people he was comfortable with. They were the people he had grown up believing were the only ones eligible for salvation. Peter seemed to be good at working with the Jews. After all, when he preached his first sermon, three thousand Jews were saved. But in Acts chapter 10, God sent Peter a vision in which a heavenly voice commanded him to kill and eat several unclean animals that descended from Heaven on a tablecloth. Peter responded, "No, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common and ritually unclean!” Again, a second time, a voice said to him, “What God has made clean, you must not call common.” This happened three times, and then the object was taken up into heaven (Act 10:14-16, HCSB).  

Eventually, Peter realized that while the vision did indeed seem to say that eating formerly unclean animals was acceptable, that God was more concerned with opening up Peter's vision to unclean people. God wanted Peter to stop viewing the work of the ministry with such narrow blinders, focusing on only one specific group of people. Peter needed to expand his vision because God wanted to use him for something beyond Peter's previous experience.

Sometimes, we find ourselves frustrated because we're looking at a particular place, trying to figure out what God has for us, but God doesn't seem to be opening any doors there. While it is possible that the proper time has not yet arrived and God wants us to patiently wait on him, it is also possible that God wants us to expand our vision. God may have an opportunity waiting for us, but we are so focused on a particular spot, on a particular group of people, on a particular role or field, that we simply can't see the door that God is holding open for us.

If you're having difficulty figuring out what God has for you, try expanding your vision, looking at people or roles or places you've never considered before. God may be holding a door wide open for you and you're simply looking in the wrong place.

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