Scripture: Romans 15:17 In Christ Jesus, then, I (Paul) have reason to boast of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ.
Observation: One of the criticisms of the apostle Paul was the contrast between his written letters and his physical appearance. His letters were big and bold and may have created in the imaginations of his readers a commanding presence. Yet tradition holds that, in person, Paul was not that at all. As we read about the trials and struggles Paul endured in service to the Lord, the beatings and imprisonment and lashings with the whip, we can understand why his physical body was likely worn down. But this was of no consequence to Paul. He clearly acknowledged that any effectiveness he had in proclaiming the gospel was a result of “what Christ has accomplished through me…” by grace – not as a result of his skill or capacity or appearance.
Application: This is Holy Week in the church calendar. In other words, it’s the week between Palm Sunday (last Sunday) and Easter Sunday (this coming Sunday). As such, I expect we will see lots of worshippers on Easter Sunday who don’t regularly attend our church – which is terrific.
And so this week I feel the responsibility of preparing a sermon that proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ (crucified, died, and risen) in a way that infrequent church attenders might hear and receive it. Before Sunday I’ll have written the Easter sermon, and revised it, and revised it again. If you’re a pastor like me, as many of you are, I’m sure you can empathize. We want to offer our very best, as well we should.
That said, we would do well to remember Paul’s words from this morning. It’s not about us. We have a role to play, but the power to stir the hearts of people toward the Lord belongs to God and to God alone. God is the actor, we are the vehicle. Nothing less, nothing more.
Prayer: Heavenly Father this morning we pray for the many who will join us for worship this week whom we don’t often see. Stir up in them a life-changing faith in Jesus Christ, by the power of your Spirit. For it is in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.