Skills for worship
By Rev. Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko
“Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship.
“And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you.” (Exodus 31: 12; 6-7).
Many people see their gifts and skills simply as means to a livelihood, a means to an end – our own end. Selling our skills to earn a comfortable living, provide for our family and live the good life is a common ambition. There’s nothing wrong with ambition. The question is whether we are made simply for our own enjoyment or for something greater. Is our skill only for sale, or is it for worship?
In Exodus God instructs Moses to build a tabernacle where His presence could dwell and around which His people could worship Him. The work would require significant materials, but also a high level of skilled craftsmanship. How was Moses to get that? Well, God had an answer.
Building human tabernacles
Several lessons from this passage are relevant to missions today. First, God is the initiator of all his work in and through us, and He is the giver of all skills and gifts – even those that we might think we have acquired. Indeed Bezalel and Oholiab worked hard to become skilled craftsmen. However, the Lord said that He had not only called them and appointed them, but that He had given them the ability to acquire those skills: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship.” (Exodus 31:3).
Then God provided for others with skill to join this work. Finally, God’s people had a heart to give for the needed materials. Both Bezalel and Oholiab, as well as the children of Israel, recognised that God’s gifts and the skills were not meant for acquiring more for themselves. They were meant for worship and for building God’s tabernacle.
The Lord is still calling people with diverse skills to engage in His work of building human tabernacles, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. He gifts people with diverse spiritual gifts and all kinds of knowledge and skill for this work. He uses those with abilities in medicine, engineering, accounting, theology, education, law, construction, agriculture, plumbing, nursing, computing and others! These skills have come from the Lord so that each of us may use them to make Him known. They can be turned over to the Saviour for the sake of those who will otherwise live and die without ever hearing his good news.
God is using professionals
Twenty-one years ago, my wife, Joanna, and I chose to put our skill in medicine at God’s disposal for his global mission. We have been blessed to see God use such little offering in the life of patients and their families in a mission hospital in a predominantly Muslim country. We have seen the door to a 100 percent Muslim village open to the gospel because of the gift of medicine. We have seen young men become disciples of Jesus – and now they are carrying the gospel to others.
Many who still live without the light of the gospel will not welcome a traditional missionary, but they will welcome a skilled professional. Many of those who brought us the gospel are themselves professionals.
The only skill that God cannot use is one that has not been surrendered to Him as an act of worship. Let us today offer Him our gifts and skills for His global mission.
Rev. Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko, SIM International Director