Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sinners!

                This morning as I was praying, I was overwhelmed at the thought of what Jesus Christ did for me. As I prayed and thanked Him for His sacrifice, His suffering, His death, and the life that He has given me, I prayed and asked the Lord God to never let me forget how desperately I need Him in my life. He laid this need and desire on my heart, and I believe He wants us all to remember how desperately we need Him and to never forget that we are sinners in need of our Savior.

                I find myself wondering about all the sinful people that are in our churches, in our families and in our world today. I look at the state of the church in America and wonder where has humility gone? Have we forgotten how sinful we are? Have we forgotten how desperately we need Jesus in our lives? Have we forgotten that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, of whom we are all chiefs?
                “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:12-15
                I am a chief of sinners, it is true. I have walked a life that has been contrary to God. I have allowed my flesh to rule my spirit, I have doubted, I have fallen into temptation, I have rebelled, I have been a sinner my whole life. When I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I did not stop sinning. In fact, every day I walk in this flesh I find myself sinning, and going against God, whether in my thoughts or in my deeds- one way or another, I am a sinner and I need Jesus- daily.  
                Have we forgotten that we are sinners in need of a Savior? Have we forgotten that there is a lost and broken world out there that are also in need of a Savior? Paul does not say that he was once a sinner, but that he too was still a sinner, even though he has obtained mercy and was given abundant grace. Notice he says “of whom I am chief”. This is stated in the present tense. He does not say that he was once chief, but that he is chief. Paul understood how desperately he needed Jesus Christ in his daily life, in every moment of every day because he knew and understood that he was a sinner.
                He also states that Christ put him into the ministry. He was enabled by Jesus Christ to do the ministry the Lord had preordained for him to walk in. The word enabled means to strengthen. Paul states that it was not him who decided that he would go and preach the gospel, or be the one to write two-thirds of the New Testament, because it was Jesus who gave him the strength to do the work that the Lord had deemed him faithful for.
             
 Sometimes I see us, the church, get so caught up in ministry and the titles they bring, the status we receive and the pride that follows that we forget the number one reason why we are in ministry in the first place- to show sinners their need for a Savior. Ministry in the Greek does not mean pastor or leader, it means servant and slave. It means laying down you and serving God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. It means that you have become a servant of God and are obedient to do whatsoever He asks of you. Ministry doesn’t have to be in a church with a title attached, all it requires is your willing heart to serve.
                It was not Paul who determined what ministry he wanted to be a part of. He did not seek a title, nor did he desire one. The Lord Jesus gave him the title of Apostle, Paul did not. It was the Lord Jesus who chose Paul for the ministry of the gospel and Paul had no say in the matter, but was thankful that Jesus considered him at all. We think that to serve in ministry we must have all the right titles, the right schooling, but it is God who calls, God who chooses, and God who equips. The gifts we have been given are not even our gifts- they are His. These gifts are not our own, they are given to us by the Holy Spirit, by God, to further His will and His purpose.
                You do not get to pick and choose your ministry, nor does the church leadership get to tell you where you can and cannot serve- that it God’s job not ours. Perhaps more people would be willing to serve in our church bodies today if we understood the basic requirement for all- be usable. Paul was used by God because he was enabled, strengthened and given the gifts needed for the service God has preordained for him. And Paul never lost sight of the fact that he was a sinner in need of Jesus’ unending mercy, grace and love. He did not stop thanking Jesus for His sacrifice, it became a part of Paul and it should become a part of us.

                We put all these requirements upon people and upon sinners- when we are sinners ourselves. We tell sinners they must go clean themselves up before coming to Jesus because we don’t want them offending anyone else in the church. But have we forgotten that we are all sinners- even that pastor you adore- he is a sinner. Always have been sinners and always will be sinners as long as we are in this flesh. Maybe we should stop looking at others as sinners and start looking at ourselves as sinners. Maybe then more sinners would find the Savior we all so desperately need. It’s not about you, nor your ministry, nor your gifts, your title, your desires, none of it is ever or will ever be about you. It is about Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom we are all Chiefs. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.