“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,...I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church…Of this church I was made a minister, according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God.” Colossians 1:24-25
Paul was writing to the Church at Colassae, during his first Roman imprisonment. He was encouraging them to stay focused on The Light of the incomparable, and unchanging Christ, not on the shifting shadows of man-made philosophy.
Paul’s suffering on their behalf brought him joy. He saw his own personal passion of The Christ, not as a burden to bear, but a privilege to share. As a God-made, not a man-made minister of the church, Paul thought it totally proper to suffer as Jesus had suffered. He responded to it in prayer to bear joy. He chose not to react to it and reap bitterness.
Prayer provides God-made minsters with sterner stuff. Those who are prayerless will inevitably fear the pain, and never embrace it. They will serve only for their own gain, and within their own comfort zone. Prayerless people will let them do it, and promote them for it. Paul prayed for an infusion of joy when there was an intrusion of suffering.
My own call to ministry came at a very early age. I was eight years old when I sensed God drawing me to a ministry in the local church. My Dad was my pastor, and though I grew up in the family business, I never felt the pressure to follow in his footsteps. I often heard my Dad say to young men seeking God’s direction for their lives, “If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out.”
It sounded like great advice, and I took it to heart. After negotiating with God for 16 years, I found myself on staff at Sagamore Hill Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas working for Dr. W. Fred Swank. Notice I didn’t say serving with him. I was working for him. Big difference.
For 42 years Dr. Swank had marched a couple of hundred “preacher boys” through his unique boot camp. At 67 years of age he was not interested in the concept of shared ministry or having anyone take him to school on their personal philosophy of ministry. It was his way or the highway. Those who thought otherwise were free to prove him wrong, somewhere else.
Dr. Swank was not afraid to speak his mind. He had developed it into an art form. One day I asked him how he had been able to see so many young men enter the ministry in his church. He said, “I called some, and God called some. The one’s God called seemed to make it.” Honest man.
Paul was a God-called, God-made minister, not a self-made man. As a minister he had one mission. Serve the church. He considered suffering or being inconvenienced in this service as his fair share of sacrifice. It was his way of “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” V. 24b
This does not suggest that Paul thought the work of Christ had not been completed on the cross. It was an expression of his passion for carrying out the Great Commission The Risen Christ had proclaimed before His Ascension. The Spirit of Christ at Pentecost infused the church with the power to carry out The Commission.
The integrity of the minister is at stake when things are faced with serving the church when things are at their worst, not when things are at their best. In every sense of the word, a God made minister is able to show up and say to the church in a crisis, “We are Him, here.”
” By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” I John 4:17
The Church describes a gathering of people called out their private homes into a public setting to come to make a decision and to take unified action regarding a pressing matter.
A person may well be able to engage in private worship God on the golf course, deer hunting or sitting in front of a TV set. They are not a part of the church until they join others to worship together, and coordinate their service within a unified ministry that is far greater than their own personal effort.
“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. “ Aristotle
The Church is an expression of The Spirit’s synergy in the lives of a group of people. It is a body of people, not just one person.
Note to self: Don’t be a Lone Ranger leaving a silver bullet, one crisis at a time. Join the Body of Christ to amass far greater fire-power. Too many people see themselves as the Lone Ranger, when in truth they are more like Barney Fife. They talk big, but have one bullet in their pocket, and nothing in their gun.
The Body: This is not a mere reference to physical, human anatomy. The word,“soma” is used of a number of people closely united into one society, or family. It can be a social, ethical, or spiritual body. The church, as Christ’s Body is an expression of the character and the conduct of Jesus.
The Head: Jesus is the Head of The Body. The church is His body, and He has called it out to assemble in a public place to communicate, deliberate, celebrate, and activate. The assembly requires His direction, protection and correction.
The Minister: This word is transliterated in English as “Deacon.” It originally referred to one who executes the commands of another. At its most literal translation it refers to someone seen hastening through the dust. It provides an image of a person who is not dust-covered by laziness or lack of service, but is running down the path so fast, that their obedience is observed by the cloud of dust they are raising, as they run in response to the command of the master.
The Minister is a steward, not an owner. Prayer minimizes “MINE” and values “THINE” as the driving force in the heart of the minister. Praying preachers are reminded daily that they are hands in pail of water. Allowed to remain, they can stir things up a little. If God moves their hand from the pail, the water calms down. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!