2 Corinthians 3:18-4:6
“I just can’t go on.” Ever find yourself muttering those words, or even crying them out? It might surprise you that pastors and missionaries aren’t immune from that kind of thought. There are times when nothing seems to go right. There’s the parishioner insulted at what you thought was a great, Gospel-filled sermon. There’s the friend who admits that he’s lost his faith. There’s the drug addict you were helping who slides back into substance abuse. Can we keep preaching the forgiveness of sins in Christ when it sometimes seems to be without effect?
Then there are those who twist and abuse the words of Jesus and the apostles to their own ends. Their congregations are growing; people flock to their services. “Give your heart to Christ, and he will give you your heart’s desires!” “No cancer can conquer a faithful prayer-er.” Add your own favorite “sermon.” There are those who twist Scripture into a formula for a stronger country, for proof that God loves us and hates everyone else, or a path to better moral behavior. How can we go on?
Because we have been given this ministry – this “service” or diakonia – by God. Christ didn’t give up on us, and he never will. That is where we find our own strength to go on. We stick to the clear word of Christ, through which Jesus is still living and active in the world. God took flesh in our fallen world to deliver us from sin, death and the devil. By Christ’s death, death has been defeated. Through his resurrection, we too will rise on the Last Day. We don’t struggle to find the “magic formula” that will bring faith, but speak an “open statement of the truth.”
The Spirit of God, the Lord, is transforming us into what Jesus has already declared us to be: God’s children. The Father, the Lord, who said “Let there be light” has chosen us to speak truth and light into the dark world. That light and truth is that this man Jesus of Nazareth is the image of God and Lord, and that through him the whole world is being saved. We are caught up in the Triune enterprise, living in the Spirit through the Son by the mercy of the Father. Strong hearts, friends. Keep calm – and carry on in Christ.
Blessed Father, through Jesus your Son, our Lord, you sent your life giving Spirit into us. You have given us this ministry, that through the clear and simple Gospel the world might be saved. Do not let us lose heart, for we are yours: you have called us each by name. Amen.