Sunday – July 17, 2022
Word On Worship – Sunday – July 17, 2022
“Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”
In coming to faith in Christ, Paul has not denied his Jewish heritage. His conversion was no denial of his Jewish hopes but an entrance into them through Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. This raises a question: If Paul is a faithful Jew, what is he doing ministering to Gentiles? If there is still hope for Israel, how can Paul justify ministering to Gentiles rather than to Jews? Paul’s answer proves that his ministry to the Gentiles is completely consistent with His Jewish heritage and hope.
We have here a very important lesson to be learned. Frequently, we are called to achieve God’s purposes in ways which may seem contrary to His purposes. In biblical terms, we are called to walk by faith and not by sight, to walk in obedience to His Word, even when doing so seems contrary to God’s purposes. For example, God calls upon us to give up our lives in order to gain them, to take up our cross in order to serve Him. Obedience to God’s Word by faith may often seem inconsistent with what He has promised to accomplish, but God’s ways are often accomplished by the most unlikely means.
The church has been commanded to “make disciples of every nation” (Matthew 28:18-20), which necessitates evangelism (Romans 10:14-15). Often there are often those who lay a guilt trip on every believer, insisting that we obey the Lord’s command by doing what appears to be evangelistic. If we are not passing out tracts, going door to door, or doing what others expect of us, we can often feel guilty. If Paul had done what appeared to be necessary to evangelize the Jews, he would have been aggressively pursuing Jewish evangelism. He did actively pursue Jewish evangelism, by going to the synagogues and preaching Christ. But he also saw that his ministry to the Gentiles was playing a part in Jewish evangelism too even if it did not appear so.
A young man may be out mowing the church lawn and may wonder if he should be mowing the grass when he could be out witnessing. But it may be the neatly-kept lawn which attracts and encourages a passerby to visit the church and thus hear the gospel. A housewife making a plate of cookies for an ailing neighbor may very well be playing a part in God’s plan to bring that neighbor to faith. God has given each member of His body, the church, different gifts and a different ministry. We must exercise our gifts and fulfill our ministry, even though it may not “look” spiritual or appear to be directly related to God’s purposes. It is only when we see our obedience to Christ’s calling as a part of the larger program and purposes of God that we are able to “magnify our ministry,” knowing that God will use it to achieve His purposes.