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The Right Stuff

 

2 Cor. 2:14 – 3:5; 3:18 – 4:18
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, Apr 11

 

For six years of my life, while living in Texas, I had the privilege of serving as a vocational evangelist. There is great advantage to having the opportunity to preach in every type of church imaginable: large, small, rural, urban, contemporary, traditional. I’ve witnessed every form of church governance, problem, and worship style. Honestly, when it comes to churches (particularly Baptist churches) I have pretty much seen it all.

However, there is one item that almost every church has in common – the church sign. It is a congregation’s effort to communicate with its members, hopeful visitors, and community at large its vision, message, and sometimes verbal “food for thought.”

Outside of the most commonly used colloquial phrases such as “ch—ch, what’s missing – ur,” the following is the most common sign I saw during that time period: “Pastor _________, Ministers: everyone.”

We know as believers in Jesus Christ we are called to be ministers, but what does that actually mean? What should our lives contain?

 

Right credentials - 2 Cor. 2:14-17; 3:4-5

A minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ should possess the right credentials. When one thinks of “credentials” for ministry typically the word “seminary” or “ordination” comes to mind. Though I believe these items are very valuable another phrase is as equally valid: “God equips the called, not merely calls the equipped.”

Much ministry in our churches and communities is left undone or displayed in a limited fashion because the majority of the “called” do not truly believe they have the proper credentials. So what are they?

There are only two credentials for one to be an effective minister – Jesus Christ as Savior and the presence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. Doctrinally, the “they” becomes a “He/Him.”

This passage describes a believer or minster as being “on display” or “triumphing.” However, it is not their own agenda or abilities, rather it is the person of Jesus Christ on display through them. Thus when one claims they do not possess the proper credentials to minister they believe the lies of the enemy rather than the truth of their Savior.

 

Right character - 2 Cor. 3:18-4:2

This portion of the passage begins by stating that ministers are to be a “glass,” or a “mirror,” for Jesus to shine through. What is the imagery? When someone sees you and your life, whether it is from a distance or closely, they should see either a reflection of Jesus or the image of Jesus in you.

Ultimately, the difficulty here lies in our ability to measure ourselves to see where we might need a “character adjustment.” Thankfully, this passage gives us a four-point “litmus test.”

• Are we honest with our words or do we “slide the truth” and communicate facts of “convenience” rather than facts of truth?

• Are we honest with our actions or do we possess false or misdirected motives or reasons for what we do or how we do it?

• Do we take the Bible at “face value” or do we “twist, turn, or add to it” to justify our own perspectives, agendas, or pet beliefs regarding life and faith?

• Do we hold others and their lives in a higher regard than that of our own or are we “me-centered” in our decision making process?

If the above “checklist” is put into place we no longer have to ask ourselves, “am I living with integrity?” or “am I a man/woman of character?” When it comes to character, a “wrong” never makes a “right.”

 

Right focus - 2 Cor. 4:5-6, 16-18

One’s ministry (lay or vocational) should focus on taking the saving message of Jesus Christ into a lost and “dark” world. Imagine this directive in terms of a flashlight. How can a flashlight become ineffective? I believe a flashlight, like our ministry, becomes out of focus when one or more of the following occurs.

• We leave it “in the closet.” Flashlights, as your ministry, are not functioning properly if they are “hidden.” Our faith and natural ministry derived from it should be on display outwardly.

• If our light is “dim.” Sometimes flashlights need new batteries. This is why church services, revivals, daily prayer, and Bible study are so important. They are means by which the Holy Spirit “recharges our spiritual batteries.” A flashlight is only as effective as its brightness.

• It is used in a well-lit room. Most Christians spend their time of “ministry” at what I call “flashlight-parties.” In other words, our ministry consists of lighting other believers.

Is fellowship important to the Christian life and local church? Absolutely; however, we are commissioned to minister in the presence of the “dark world.”

Growing up in Texas meant learning how to dodge tornadoes. One of the most valuable “tools” during tornado season was and is a flashlight. I remember countless nights of tornado sirens and cramming my family into bathtubs, closets, and small spaces.

In the midst of the wind, rain, and yes fear never, I mean never, did any of my family members question or ponder the color, brand, or size of my flashlight. Here is a valuable hint: the lost world that desperately needs Jesus is not so much concerned with what we often get distracted with in churches – colors, sizes, etc. – they just want the light of Jesus shown upon them, would you be willing?