True grace gives us the backbone to stand up for God’s purpose in the world. We become willing to suffer for the cause of Christ because Christ is the center of all human history. He’s the only thing ultimately worth living for. Spreading his gospel of freedom is worth all the bondage of this world.
Paul suffered for the Gentiles, but he wasn’t sad about it. He tells the Corinthians, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Corinthians 12:15). He was God’s gift to them. You, too, are a gift to someone to show there is a God above who loves, saves, sustains, heals, and brings his children home to a world without sin and pain. God is calling us to suffer on behalf of them.
What’s our motivation? It's the same as Paul's - the fact that God has revealed the mystery of the gospel to us (Ephesians 3:2-6). Paul’s ongoing motivation wasn’t that face to face encounter he had with Jesus. It was the ongoing relationship he had with him through the Spirit. It was understanding the implications of the mystery of Christ and God has given us that same revelation. We know the secret to the universe. We have Jesus. Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:1-6 are our biography now. We are prisoners of Christ Jesus on behalf of others! And this mystery is ours to share.
We live in an age of God-minimization. Christianity is too often explained as what sociologist Christian Smith calls "moralistic therapeutic deism” which views God basically as a cosmic therapist or divine butler, ready to help when needed. But we know he's far greater than that. He’s the lover of our souls. He doesn’t just help us through life with tips and life-hacks, he heals all that’s wrong with us deep inside. He’s there in the big and small things, calling us to himself for himself and his purposes. We are made in his image, and we have no right to create him in ours. The gospel is not merely a call to morality; it’s a call to a person, to Jesus Christ our Lord. He came to serve, but he is not a butler; He’s the Lord God Almighty who is in the heavens and does whatever he pleases. And his pleasure is to get involved with the real you for his real purposes of glory.
God is greater and more glorious than who many of our neighbors and co-workers believe. I'm not saying we're better than anyone. We're not! Paul didn't believe he was, either. He says in verse 8 he's the very least of the saints. Our attitude is not that we are better, but that Jesus is better than every other possible alternative. Life with Christ is the very best life possible. Who do you know who needs to hear that? Who needs to experience the life-giving wonder of the gospel in the church?
God is calling us to lay down our lives for them: to lay aside every preference, every prejudice, every comfort, every vain pursuit, every selfish ambition. He's asking us to gladly and boldly do all we can to make room for more people in his kingdom. He may ask us to move. He may ask us to rearrange our schedule. He may ask us to give more than we think we're able. He may call some of us out into the world, and others of us home to our children. But if the gospel is true, if anyone can be saved by God in Christ, why would we ever hold that message back? Why would we put up any walls to keep anyone out?
All we must do right now to get involved in God’s plan for the world is say "yes" to him, remembering Paul's encouragement in Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” He’s not asking us to figure this out. He’s telling us to follow. There is not one man or woman in the history of the world who said "yes" to Christ and lived to regret it. When we say yes to Christ, we are saying yes to joy no matter what happens. By grace, you and I are swept up in God's eternal plan for the world!
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared at David's blog, Things of the Sort.