Monday, June 30, 2008

The Shape of Ministry

Today I did the first of five Annual Reviews for my staff team. It's a pleasure to be able to sit down for a few hours and take a look at what God has done this year. Before reflecting back on that this morning we looked at Galatians.

In Galatians 4v8-20 Paul gets intensely personal with the Galatian church. His love for them is evident as he makes his appeal.

We see the goal of Paul's ministry.
  • He works to see them continue to know God / be known by God. This is the great work of God's gospel, to bring his people to him. The gospel brings us into relationship with God, through the cross, by the Holy Spirit. Living in a foretaste of the great marriage of Jesus and his church in the new creation.
  • Furthermore, that know/known relationship with God is to lead to Christ being formed in the Christians of Galatia. The Spirit of the Son is in them, they wear the righteousness of Christ but their hearts too must be changed more and more into the likeness of Jesus.
We see the experience of ministry.
  • Paul fears that he may have laboured in vain. Any departure from the gospel is vanity. Paul fears this when he goes to Jerusalem but his fears unnecessary (2v2). He fears it for the Galatians when he asks them if they endured persecutions in vain (3v4). The prospect of meaninglessness hovers over ministry in case the Galatians depart from God and his gospel.
  • We also see the the experience of ministry as like the anguish of childbirth. I've no idea what that's like directly and neither did Paul. But painful would appear to be the case. Gospel ministry hurts.
  • Moreover, Paul is perplexed that they would turn from the gospel. The unfolding of gospel work can indeed be confusing.
And yet, Paul goes on. He doesn't pack up and give up because of the prospect of meaninglessness, the pain of childbirth of the perplexity of the people. The gospel is of such great worth that his work is worth completing. And so he persists with them:
  • Telling them the truth, the precious truth about Jesus.
  • Preaching the gospel, the one and only gospel of Christ crucified.

These are sobering lessons and they just up my appetite to be involved in this ministry of bringing the gospel to students and serving the church.

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