A soldier, an athlete and a farmer walk into a church.
There’s no punchline. I imagine and hope having all walks of life is a common reality for most of us. We see the great love of God demonstrated in the church’s unity. People do not and should not all look alike or think alike to be the church. Our true connection is the grace and love of God found in Jesus not in our opinions or even our traditions.
In 2 Timothy 2, the soldier, athlete and farmer are helpful illustrations. Each has their work before them. They know what needs to be accomplished. The soldier is ready for battle. The athlete has trained for her event. The farmer has worked diligently to prepare for the harvest. If not, they wouldn’t be good at what they do.
But the farmer has listened and learned from the rhythms of the land when it is time to plant. The athlete understands the boundaries of competing and being successful. And the soldier knows who is in command. Their grasp of all this allows them the chance to flourish.
What about the church those three individuals attend? How does a corporate body know if it is on track? This is one area the business world has learned more than the church. The mission is priority. Not your mission and your friend’s mission. Not the mission of your affinity group within the church. The mission God has given the church is priority.
We must know where the commands are coming from. Not from the pastor or that one saint with the loudest voice. But from the Holy Spirit. You can tell how on track, on mission your church is by how eager people are to be faithful followers of Jesus. Their eagerness will lead to fruit that glorifies God.
To be sure, we can’t just sit around talking about Jesus. We have a Jesus-life to live. We do the hard work of teaching the kingdom of God and repentance. We train together in holiness so that whether we’re soldiers, athletes, farmers, teachers, postal workers, retirees or any one else, we can all live faithful to the mission God has given us.