I want to take a moment this morning and share a passage of scripture that is meant to encourage everyone who calls themselves Christian but especially those who find themselves called into pastoral ministry and are responsible for the growth and development of the church body. I have recently been reading a book on the shepherds of the Middle East and the relationship of that life style to those who are called to ministry itís a wonderful book with great insight into what the scriptures say about being a shepherd. The passage of scripture is from Paulís letter to Colossae and begins with chapter 1:24-29;
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christís afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (ESV)
Being a minister of Godís Word can be a thankless job with long hours and very little support Paul understood this better than probably anyone that has every preached Jesus to the world. He suffered many things at the hands of those who sought to deny Christ. However he also came under persecution from so-called fellow believers. He makes a statement that is often misunderstood in verse 24, ďand in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christís afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church.Ē If you have ever served in ministry you can understand this statement. It is not that Jesus sufferings were incomplete but that each day you as an individual carry on those same sufferings as you carry the cross to a world that rejects it fulfilling the mission of the church.
You have not been called to ministry by man and you will not answer to man for the ministry that you provide. Each man or woman that receives a call to the ministry is given a measure of work to do; the main reason Paul gives is to make the word of God fully known, to provide discernment to the saints and to help them learn to discern Godís will and teachings for themselves; so that they too can grow and do the will of God the Father through a relationship with His Son Jesus.
Paul finishes this thought by assuring those at Colossae that he does not do it under his own strength but through the power that God has provided and that works within him. To those who are called to ministry and those who serve in any form or fashion the body of Christ this is the most important part of Paulís writings. Where does your power to minister come from? Our purpose is defined we are to teach and preach the word of God so that others will see the glory of God and accept him as Lord and savior; helping them to grow so that they can share in the ministry of Christ to the world. But whose power are you working under? If Paul recognizes the fact that it is not by his own power or energies that he carried on than donít we also need to recognize the need to allow God's power to work in us in all that we do? I wrote this to those who are serving in ministry to share that we are not to become weary in the work but that we should rely on the power of God in those times that life and ministry becomes unbearable. He has called you to it and He has provided the power to make it happen all we need to do is turn to Him, in His word and with the Holy Spiritís guidance and power we can carry on in what he has called us to. I pray that today you find strength in His word to carry on the fight pushing beyond the human limits and into the undeniable, unstoppable power of the one and only God who dwells within you in the power and might of His Holy Spirit. Be blessed as you walk in the light of His Word.