Day 23 Matthew 28:16-20
John Wesley is known to have said that the world was his parish. He saw his responsibilities to extend beyond the local church. He felt a responsibility for his entire world – everyone within his realm of influence. That can seem to be an overwhelming responsibility and yet God has called for us to show His love beyond limits.
When ordained an elder in the Free Methodist Church, we are reminded that we are not only called to pastor those within our local church, but we are also called to pastor the city or town in which we live. In other words, our territory of responsibility is enlarged. We are to engage our communities with love and compassion; to minister to the needs of the people; and, most importantly, to pray for those within our sphere of influence.
Such responsibility is not limited to ordained clergy. All of God’s people are called to engage our world with the Gospel and to battle for our “territory” in prayer. In her book The Prayer Saturated Church, Cheryl Sacks writes:
“The principle of being assigned responsibility for a geographical area is also found in the early days of the church. Paul speaks of ‘the field God has assigned to us’ (2 Corinthians 10:13-15). He taught that God gave individuals geographical areas of responsibility so the gospel could spread abroad and the church could be established. This Scripture helps us understand that we not only have authority in neighborhoods but also in other places where we have influence such as a school where we teach, a church we pastor, or another place of employment. It all starts, however, with taking to heart the assignment we have been given. [Cheryl Sacks, The Prayer Saturated Church (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004), 197.]
To stake a claim over a territory for God is not a new concept. In the Old Testament, when God was establishing the Israelites as a nation, He declared a given territory for each tribe as their inheritance. However, to inhabit the land God was giving them, the people had to conquer the land and establish it as their own. Then, as God’s chosen people, they were called upon to live faithful lives before the Lord.
As we claim our city or “territory” for God, we may not engage in a physical battle, but we do engage in an equally if not greater battle through prayer. Where the Israelites faced armies of men, we do battle with unseen forces. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Our Lord does want us to be involved in the fight and to develop a deep passion to see those within our sphere of influence delivered from Satan and the evil he continues to spread. This passion for souls is a must if we are to gain territory for God and keep safe those within His kingdom. If we fail to have a heart for the lost, we will lose ground and could see our territory become like that described in Jeremiah 12:11 – “It will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me; the whole land will be laid waste because there is no one who cares.”
“Because there is no one who cares!” May these words echo in our hearts as we pray, reminding us of what is at stake should we neglect the territory God has given us and those within it. Stake your claim and draw upon the Lord’s strength to conquer the enemy seeking to keep those within it in bondage. Declare the victory of the Lord! Claim the territory He has given to you.