And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).
“My Father’s business.” It is a phrase I have used often in my writing and preaching. In my mind it evokes thoughts of sharing the gospel, sharing my testimony or witnessing. (Witnessing, given the circumstances may not be the same as evangelizing. Another story for another day); showing the love of Christ and the face of Christ to an unbelieving world. As Christians, we should want to help solve the world’s problems, help heal the world’s hurts.
However, we should realize that task can never be done in a complete or permanent manner by our own efforts, even when we are guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Total, complete and permanent healing is going to take the Second Coming of Jesus. Nevertheless, we are to work in the world going about our Father’s business. And let us not forget a very important fact: We can reach out to the world and should but our primary responsibility as members of His Church is to other members of His Church.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
With this particular verse, I actually prefer the rendering in the New American Standard Bible:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
This makes it clear that the bema seat judgment—the judgment of rewards—is a judgment of deeds done in the body from the point in time when one joins the Body of Christ. Things done before one comes to Christ are not part of our appointed before the bema (for that would make for a works based salvation).
And while I am not saying we would not hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23) for things we may do to minister to those outside of the Church, I believe the clear focus of this passage in 2 Corinthians deals with the Body of Christ; serving and ministering to others within the Body of Christ. Being about our Father’s business should begin at home, within the Body; within the local church we attend, for starters.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10).
In Galatians, the apostle Paul is clear in his instruction that doing “good” is expected and required, especially in the Church. And whether you hold to the Pauline authorship of Hebrews, writing under the influence and guidance of Paul, or even if Paul had nothing to do with Hebrews, the author is stating that ministering to the saints is not something forgotten by God, for He is a just God.
The complaint in the opening verses of Acts 6 is that widows within the local Body were not having their daily needs met. It was a situation serious enough for the twelve apostles to address and resolve. Taking care of His business within the Body of believers is serious, important work demanding immediate attention.
If you are called by the Lord to go serve in some dark corner of the world (it seems dark corners are all we have in the world anymore), by all means be obedient to the call and serve the Lord empowered by His Spirit. But know there is a mighty work of service that probably needs to be tended to right in your backyard.
It may be your next door neighbor who might happen to not be a believer, but it might also be the person sitting next to you on a Sunday morning, someone as faithful and obedient to the Lord as you are. You can seek a mountaintop experience with the Lord, but remember, the gospel accounts had Jesus and His disciples coming off the mountain and getting back into day to day ministry. Jesus wasn’t going to let the three stay on the mountaintop linger and neglect what was next on the agenda. He brought them back down among the multitudes.
If you are focused on the needs of your local church Body, you will most likely come into contact with many neighbors and friends, with people in your local community. It will give you the opportunity to reach others for Christ at the same time you are helping other members of the Body.
It does not have to be an either/or. It can most definitely be a both/and. By seeking to be discerning of needs in the local body of Christ, you will learn to discern the need for Christ locally outside of the Body: because you will be more in tune with those living around and amongst you.
The Lord might give you a mountaintop experience, He might send you far afield from your home. But He has work that needs to be done in your own backyard, and it will please the Lord if you recognize it and step up to do it.
Whatever the Lord has for us to do, and wherever He has placed the work, we should be about our Father’s business and just go do it as He has asked.