I just finished reading a novel set at the turn of the 19th century in slave holding Virginia. I am amazed, again, of the arrogant superiority that one people holds over another. I say ‘again’ because it has been so ingrained throughout history, whether in European colonization of Africa, America’s treatment of the Indians, and even some Christian missionary work where we feel we must change a people to make them look like us. Jesus’ message was one of humility, of being willing to be the servant of all, of washing another feet without asking whether that person was worthy of it or not. If we want to prove the natural sinfulness of man, we need look no further than the “me first, I’m better than you” attitude that rises to the surface in all of us, and has led to the destruction of many people. It is only the Gospel of God’s free gift of grace in Jesus Christ that can begin to change hearts and move a person to look beyond self to others.
Paul uses the expression, “I have become a servant of the Gospel…”(Ephesians 3:7) The Gospel, the Good News, is the great declaration that we are justified and righteous before God by His pure gift of grace, through our faith in Jesus Christ. We are set free from our bondage to sin. Paul is saying, as a prisoner set free, he is not able to be a servant to others with that same grace that he has received. Paul was an apostle and an evangelist, spreading God’s word to city after city around the Mediterranean area. We do not have such a vast territory, but we have received the same Gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. By the very fact of our faith in Jesus, we, too, have become servants of the Gospel. It is the Good News that cannot be contained. In words, and especially in our manner of life, we seek to serve those whom the Lord brings to us. A wonderful title! Be mindful that you, too, are a servant of the Gospel.
A sign of getting old is to repeat one’s self. I am very aware of this when I’m teaching or writing. The same illustrations, or Scripture references, will come to mind time and again, but they are still applicable. I am reminded of the line in the Gospel song, “for those who know it best, seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.” We really only have one message, but that message contains the content of the whole of life. There are many facets to our Lord, and in all eternity we will never know all there is to know about God. But the message we repeat, over and over, is that God loves us, and has provided the way, in Jesus Christ, for us to be a part of Him forever. I do repeat myself, but it is not a sign of old age. It is the joy of having the greatest message in the world, and wanting to share it as often as possible.
Someone once asked Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” It is an interesting, and some would say irrelevant, question in our day of tolerance and inclusiveness. It was a serious question, and Jesus gave it a serious answer. “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:23-24). The message of new life in Christ is for all people, for all time. We are not at all exclusive in sharing the Gospel, but we are also clear in understanding that new life is in Christ. It is not automatic just for being a nice person and having a nice smile. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). It is not our place to condemn anyone, but neither is it ours to water down the truth of life in His name. “We preach Christ crucified…” (I Corinthians 1:23). He is the center of life, hope, and joy for all people.