Wednesday, February 25, 2015

a testimony of ministry

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.
2 Corinthians 1:12

Paul's description of his ministry lifestyle is a fitting framework that I hope to emulate in my own life. I have been serving in ministry of one kind or another as my life's calling for twenty-seven years now. I know no other life. But in many ways I am challenged to keep Paul's description of ministry as my goal in whatever time I have left by the grace of God.

Paul first gauged his behavior by the way the world saw him. He behaved as a Christian servant first in the world, and then to the church. That is why the gospel was always ready on his lips. I do well to remember this since I often reverse the order, living in the church almost exclusively, then "in the world". Paul's call to be on mission with the gospel was to the world, and as he put it "supremely so" to the church.

There are four components to his testimony of ministry. First, he lived with simplicity. A life complicated by the stuff of this world would have hampered the call to go forward where the gospel had not been preached. Everywhere Paul lived, including Corinth, he lived simply so that Christ was his most valued possession. This makes sense because pioneers live uncluttered lives. Secondly, Paul lived with godly sincerity. You saw what you got with Paul. He was the example of real Christian commitment. He could humbly and confidently make disciples with the simple admonition: imitate me as I imitate Christ.

Paul also refused to identify with worldly wisdom. And finally, the gospel as revealed in the magnificent grace of God was his entire worldview. He was well versed in the thinking of his culture. He could masterfully debate with the most noted intellectuals with fervor and logic. He could also sit and make tents, conversing with people in the common marketplace through daily activity. The gospel gave him the wisdom to live in the world. And it created a ministry platform for Paul's life... as it does for me today.

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