Colossians 1:28-29 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
This is a succinct description of the job of every true minister of the Gospel. Sadly there are some who could not honestly claim it, but there are many who can. This is predicated on the magnificent description of Christ Himself in verses 15-20. That still gets me every time I read it, even though I wrote a song from it back in 1978. If we don’t have a high enough vision of Christ, we aren’t going to proclaim Him accurately or sufficiently, as Paul talks about here. The goal of the proclamation is to make mature believers of everyone, or as Jesus Himself said, disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20) I’ve preached on that twice recently! Human strength isn’t up to the task, so it’s a good thing God’s strength is available, just as Paul mentions here. I think just about every minister has experienced burnout to at least some degree at one time or another. We all have a persistent tendency to rely on ourselves instead of on God, and that is what guarantees burnout, since the task is obviously more than we can handle on our own. However, when we maintain our connection to Christ, His wisdom, power, and everything else flow through us to establish His rule and reign as His will is done by and through us.
I’ll have to confess that it’s the “admonishing” part of this that gives me pause. I will teach at the drop of a hat, but correcting people and “laying down the law” is something that gives me heartburn. However, that too is needed for presenting people perfect/mature in Christ. (Several translations, including the Japanese one I use, go with “mature” in this passage.) Looking back over my ministry to this point, that’s something I haven’t done quite enough. Going forward, I need to fear nothing, either people’s reactions or my own human weaknesses, rather trusting God to do His work through me. I must not be proud or presumptuous – I’ve done more than enough of that – but operate in assured humility. That might seem like a contradictory term, but I think it expresses the conviction that I can’t do things right on my own, but God is more than able to do it through me, and if I am submitted to Him, He will.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the joy, the incredible privilege, of being used by You. Your anointing as I spoke to the prayer meeting yesterday was palpable, to me and to many of those present. Thank You. I pray that I would be fully available to You at all times and in all places, to indeed “present everyone perfect in Christ,” for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!