When we first meet Paul (ahem, Saul), he is on a mission. A Jew zealous for God, he persecuted Jesus-followers near and far, throwing them in prison, approving of their stonings. Then he met Jesus for himself on that classic road to Damascus, changing the trajectory and mission of his life (Acts 9, 22). Years later, Paul’s life revolves around God’s desire that all people would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. In his own words,
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.” (1 Timothy 2:1-7)
This mission informs how Paul prays, lives, and spends his time.
Mission Informs Prayer
Through Jesus, God made a way for all people to be saved. That’s the good news! The bad news is that some have not accepted it yet and others are discouraged in their faith.
When we pray for our saved and unsaved friends, acquaintances, and leaders, we invite God to work in their lives, to use us in their lives, and to teach them more truth about Himself and the reach of the gospel.
(Paul also tells his friends how he’s praying for them. Read here for ideas on how to pray for your own friends: Romans 1:8-10; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; Ephesians 1:15-19; Philippians 1:3-6, 9-11; Colossians 1:9-12; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, 11-12, 2 Timothy 1:3, Philemon 1:5-7).
Mission Informs Lifestyle
Paul wants us to pray for everyone, including our leaders, so that we can lead peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Paul is advocating for a lifestyle of peace where we can focus on loving and obeying God.
Peace and unity are important to Paul because the alternatives are distracting -- both to us and everyone else. He writes about it often: Live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on you (Romans 12:18); don’t get entangled in civilian pursuits (2 Timothy 2:4); don’t argue about words (2 Timothy 2:14), myths (1 Timothy 4:7), and other foolish debates (Titus 3:9, 1 Timothy 6:4-5).
Mission Informs How Paul Spends His Time
So far, the mission has Paul praying for everyone and living peacefully with others so he can live a godly, holy life. However, Paul’s understanding of the mission takes him one step farther -- an apostle.
Paul doesn’t just intercede in prayer and monitor his walk with Jesus, he spends his time making disciples through missionary journeys, preaching in temples and towns, writing letters to those he discipled and trained. He is actively spreading the gospel and encouraging believers.
Has the Mission Changed YOur Life?
Paul’s life revolves around making disciples because that’s the mission he received from God.
It is the same mission we received from God.
“Therefore 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
How does God’s mission inform your prayers, lifestyle, and how you spend your time? I’d love to hear some stories! Comment below.