In the past three or four weeks, a passage in Acts has made me think and reflect on what the attitude of Christ-followers should be in the midst of potential suffering, pain, persecution, and hard times. One reason God does not bring us home to Heaven when we accept Christ is because others need to hear the Gospel and have the chance to accept Christ as well. Thus, one of the foundational reasons we as Christians are here is to know Jesus and to make him known. Paul knew this fact. Even in the face of persecution and afflictions, he says to the elders of the Church of Ephesus in Acts 20:22-24 (italics added),
And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, compelled by the Spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, (23) except that in every town the Holy Spirit warns me that change and afflictions are waiting for me. (24) But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.
It’s clear Paul had healthy views of who he was. In 2 Corinthians 11, he defends his apostolic status, which might be evidence that he was not insecure about the way in which he was identified. However, he knew that mere apostleship was not what was driving him to preach Christ as he did. Rather, as he points out in Acts 20:24, it was the ministry he received from Christ (to testify to the gospel of God’s grace).
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you are not exempt from the ministry of testifying about God’s grace which you also have received. I began by showing how that’s the who reason you are still here instead of in Heaven with Jesus. He needs us to spread the good news of salvation to the lost. This is why Jesus calls us to be disciples, to deny ourselves and follow him, showing others who he is through our obedience to him.
Paul also captures this principle in a short but powerful way in another letter he wrote during his ministry. In Philippians 1:21, he says that “for me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” To live is Christ. Christ followers, let us not forget that this life is not our own. We don’t live for ourselves, we live for Christ because Christ lives in us and through us.