Summary: In our ministry, there are various tasks, all of which can serve to glorify Christ.
Text: Colossians 1:24-2:5
Title: The Glorious Tasks of Ministry
Paul told the Colossians about his many tasks in ministry, all of which served to glorify Christ.
In our ministry, there are various tasks, all of which can serve to glorify Christ.
We are all called to ministry. Some churches include this in their core statements with something like, “every member a minister.”
We often isolate ministry to a particular task, such as fixing things, teaching a Sunday School class, or helping an aged neighbor got to and from the dcotor’s office. While these certainly can be called ministries, I would like to focus on tasks that all of us will have to do if we are truly going to minister.
1. We have the task of suffering (24-25).
Paul was in prison and uncertain of his future. By the time he had gotten to Rome, where this letter was written, he had been shipwrecked, stoned and beaten numerous times. In addition to all that had happened, he was suffering imprisonment and the (Rom. 5:3).
Nothing here takes away from the sufficiency of Christ’s suffering; Paul’s suffering didn’t save anyone, but pointed them to the One who can. Paul wasn’t in these situations by accident, but by God’s plan (25).
“The suffering of Christ’s messengers ministers to those they are trying to reach and may open them to the gospel.” John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad p. 91
In this book, Piper tells the story of an indigenous missionary in India who walked barefoot from village to village sharing the gospel. After walking a long way he finally came to a village where he was spurned for his message. Being tired and discouraged, he went out of the village and fell fast asleep under a tree. When he awoke, all the villagers were there, anxious to hear his message. The head man of the village said that they had been looking him over while he slept, and when they saw his blistered feet they concluded that he must be a holy man. They were sorry for rejecting one who had endured so much to come tell them of Jesus.
Our orientation meeds changing. Instead of seeing suffering a negative, i.e. punishment by God, see it as a positive, joining Christ in His sufferings
Suffering and setbacks can be opportunities instead of obstacles.
See your sufferings and setbacks as opportunities to witness. Don’t resist suffering, but realize that you are joining Christ when you suffer for his sake (Phil. 3:10)
2. We have the task of proclaiming (26-28).
Today, the word “mystery” conjures up images of the unknown or stories of whodunit murder dramas on television. But this word in the New Testament always refers to that which was once hidden, now is revealed and available to all. Namely, that Jesus Christ the Messiah, came to save not only Jews but Gentiles. (Rev. 7:9).
This proclamation involves delivering bad news (“warning”) and good news (“teaching”) with the goal of spiritual maturity.
People can’t hear the good news until they know there’s bad news.
Imagine if the highway department only wanted to put up highway signs that made people feel good about driving. Instead of speed limit signs with a number, they would say something like, “Whatever seems right to you.” Gone would be any signs indicating potential danger such as “bridge out,” “bump,” or “uneven pavement.” If that actually happened, who knows how many more accidents would be caused for lack of warning. In the same way, our proclamation of the gospel must include the fact that sin and everything else opposed to God will meet with severe punishment one day.
Oftentimes the “proclamation” is seen as belonging to preachers and Bible teachers. But all of us have this task given to us. We proclaim with our words as well as our actions. Even so, we must always be ready to speak on behalf of our Lord (1 Peter 3:15).
Rev. Sam Shoemaker, an Episcopal priest and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous once said, “I cannot witness by my life alone, I must include my lip. For if I witness by my life alone, I proclaim too much of me, and too little of Him.”
When you have an opportunity to talk about Christ and the faith, balance the good news with the bad news. Give the warning as well as the teaching.
3. We have the task of struggling (29-2:1).
The words “struggling” and “struggle” (1:29, 2:1) contain the root “agon,” as in agony. This was a word used to describe athletic contests, esp. wrestling.
Since Paul was removed physically and largely unknown to them, the arena of the struggle certainly included prayer. The struggle was internal as well as external.
Soldiers in battle have to struggle their own fears, the environment (weather, terrain, etc.), and an armed enemy.