What is success in the ministry?

By REV. EARL PRESLEY First Christian Church

Luke 4:25-27

But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.

Ever consider how many failures there are in scripture? Just like then, we only remember the winners. Not many can tell you who lost the past three Super Bowls, or which horse came in second in the Kentucky Derby.

Jesus calls attention in his home town of Nazareth to those who are not saved in the famous stories. They were very upset that they might be the ones who would refuse to hear God’s message or see that he was the Messiah.

It begs the question: how many are lost due to the lack of a prophet and how many prophets preach without response? How many are called like Moses and refuse to go back to Egypt? How many like Hosea just got a divorce? How many cities like Niniveh didn’t respond to their Jonah?

Consider Sodom and Lot! The scripture is full of success stories and only John the Baptist and Stephen’s martyrdom are well recorded other than the repeated mentions of how the Israelites treated their “Prophets.” The Romans destroyed the Essene Community which was the birthplace of the Christian and Rabbinical movements.

Jesus’ Gospel of Love and Peace is not always accepted. Look what the Temple powers did to him!

A true commitment to the God of Love and total submission to the Lordship of Christ is not a guaranty of success as we imagine it from the stories recorded throughout history.

There is no basis for the assertion that obedience will bring prosperity. You are more likely to suffer for the Gospel than to prosper from it.

It is not a free ride to prosperity. Total submission to Christ does have the promise of “the peace that passes all understanding” which, as my father the evangelist used to say, “enables one to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ while the lion eats your leg off.”

It is enough for me, continuing in Christ’s Service, even if no one will listen.

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2010-07-22 digital edition

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