Paul the Apostle told people in the Corinthian churches (yes, churches plural)* that “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches.” 1 Corinthians 7:17
In other words, if you’re an ice cream scooper or a hamburger flipper and you receive Christ as your Lord & Savior (become a Christian), then you should, from that point on, keep scooping and flipping because that’s where God wants you.
John Gill has said:
People should stay in their proper sphere of usefulness, and the station in which he (God) would have him be, and the place he would have him fill up, and the business he must do in life; so let him act, and as the Lord hath called everyone; which is to be understood of that particular station of life, and those circumstances of it, in which men are providentially placed by God, or are found in when he calls them by his grace; as whether married or unmarried; whether joined to a believer or an unbeliever; whether circumcised or uncircumcised; whether bond or free; a servant or a master; and so may refer to what follows, as well as to what goes before…
Is the most common interpretation of this verse starting to make you angry? It seems like this translation is a form of abusive control. Beyond that, on the surface anyway, it seems directly contrary to “ministry.” What do I mean? Well, no one is a pastor when they get saved, although I do know of one. In fact, if this is true, then no one can be in a christian profession of any sort. Unless, of course, they just happen to get saved while being the worship leader of a mega church or something similar.
To my missional friends, you should gladly accept this interpretation because it reaffirms the idea of “being a missionary right where you are.” To my friends who translate the Great Commission as “as you go,” this will only strengthen your case because it affirms reaching others while going about your everyday God-given normal life. To my Organic church friends, this supports gathering naturally “as life happens.” But, for my missionary friends, myself included, this means we’ll have to leave the field and go back to whatever situation we were in before.
*The word “churches” in (1 Corinthians 7:17) in the plural form establishes and justifies the existence of many local assemblies (called out ones assembling, congregating, and sending) within the greater context of the universal Church. 1 Corinthians 1:2
Surely this verse can’t mean what most say it means. Can it? What do you think?