Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Is there a cause that you would die for? Paul went to great lengths to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, and He suffered for it greatly. What would our commitment to Christ look like if we truly had to suffer for it? Now, I know that some believe that we are suffering under the Obama administration, but our current situation pales in comparison to the Roman government. The Romans weren’t Paul’s only concern. The Jewish leaders also caused a great deal of trouble for him.
We can sit back now and read Paul’s eloquent words and follow his journeys on the maps in the back of our Bibles, but the memory of the personal price he paid has been diluted over time. He recounts his beatings, arrests and other punishments in his letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:23-28), yet his constant ambition was to present the Gospel where no one had heard the message (Romans 15:20). Nothing deterred Paul. In fact, the persecution he faced helped him identify more closely with Christ.
How would we do under Paul’s circumstances? Would we face persecution for our faith? Honestly, most of us would debate whether to sweat for our faith let alone die for it. And, there’s a very good reason for our attitude: we’ve forgotten what it’s like to see someone cross from death over to life.
We go to church, yes. Some go to worship. Many go out of obligation. The rest are somewhere in between. But, have we forgotten that this mystery of the Gospel that the prophets longed to see is the greatest power in the universe? Have we become so accepting of others seeking their own path and going their own way that we’re comfortable with their personal preference to head straight to Hell?
I’m not an evangelist. I never liked knocking on doors or standing on street corners. I’d rather have a root canal. But, a couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of praying with someone to receive Christ. Even though we prayed over the phone, to witness someone going from confusion and distress to overwhelming joy was something to behold. That next Sunday everyone from Guest Services to the Safety Team was searching for me. The gal I prayed with just had to meet me. It didn’t take much coaxing for her to cross the line of faith. She just needed to be invited.
What did that cost me? Well, a week of telephone tag, but that’s all. What did it give me? It gave me a glimpse at what I experienced long ago. It showed me what serving Christ is all about.
Your phone may not be ringing off the hook with sinners seeking sainthood. But, you can experience the miracle of new life at a baptism service (you might have to sweat outdoors though).
Beyond that, my challenge to you is to invite God to use you. When you are available to God, He will use you. When you’re not open, He won’t. Once you’ve made yourself available, pay attention to who God brings into your path. Their salvation is not up to you. That’s Jesus’ job. You don’t need to be the closer: “What do I need to do to give you a Savior today?” You answer their questions. You help them. You offer to pray for their needs. You let Jesus live in you and through you. Then, see what happens.
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