Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Picture of Christian Ministry

 2 Corinthians 4:7–15 (ESV)
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
The Apostle Paul wrote Second Corinthians because there were false teachers in the Corinthian Church who were slandering Paul so they could take control of the church. Paul had to defend his ministry, and he did it by showing the Corinthians what ministry is really all about.
Paul's opponents were intelligent & attractive, charismatic, eloquent and cultured. By worldly standards, these men were ideal leaders.
But Paul knew that ministry is about the way of Christ. And the way of Christ is the way of weakness, the way of the cross. Yes, God empowers us to serve Him, but in such a way that we have to keep relying upon Him.

A Jar of Clay
He chose Paul, whose personality (not character, but his appearance and style) was unimpressive, especially when compared to the false teachers in Corinth. He also allowed Paul to continually experience hardship, opposition, sadness and disappointment. No wonder Paul referred to himself as a jar of clay. (Tag. "banga")
Why? So that Paul would continually rely on God.
  • He didn't pursue worldly comforts, but rather, relied on God simply to meet his physical needs.
  • He didn't rely on earthly credentials or polished communication skills – although he was not completely lacking in these things. Rather, he relied on the Holy Spirit.
  • The proof of his apostleship was not “letters of recommendation” from high-profile leaders (2 Cor. 3:2), nor was it in “racking up the numbers” in terms of ministry funds, projects accomplished, or people converted. Rather, the proof of his apostleship was the Corinthian believers. They were few and flawed, but their lives had been unmistakably transformed by the Holy Spirit through the gospel of Christ.

Power & Weakness In Ministry
By observing God's work in and through Paul, what can we learn?
  • Real ministry displays power. But not power in the world's terms. The world has very little power compared to God, but it flaunts every bit of it while it can, in order to impress itself. But ministry unto Christ displays God's power to forgive sinners, transform them into godly men and women, and preserve them unto eternal life.
  • Power in ministry isn't meant to display the extent of God's power, but the quality of it. God isn't interested in having more adherents than the world's religions and philosophies. He, by divine right and according to His infinite wisdom, has chosen to save but a few. And yet, every instance of salvation is a little sample of how wonderful and gracious and absolutely unique God's power is. Only God can convert a soul. Only He can keep a soul. God lets the world flaunt its meager power in order to contrast it with His own. He's not out to display the extent of His power. He's already done that in creation, and He'll do it again one day when He establishes His kingdom on earth. By His decree, the world is under the power of the evil one, but his rule is temporary and provisional, and God makes His absolute rule clear every time He saves a soul.
  • As ministers of Christ, we need to accept weakness and hardship because that's how God means to display His power in us. He wants us to depend completely on Him. So, we should be continually be in an attitude of prayer.

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