Sunday, July 29, 2012

What's Your Credentials?

"When Paul lists his ministry credentials, they don't include what we would call his 'accomplishments.' No, instead he boasts about his weakness in such things as afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, and hunger (2 Cor. 6:4-5). Have you ever wondered if there was something lacking in Paul's interpersonal communication skills? Maybe he wasn't trying hard enough to get along with people; maybe he needed a book on how to have his best life now. Why would he have so much trouble if he was really serving the Lord?
Paul brags that he has the true marks of an apostle because he has had 'far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and [was] often near death' (2 Cor. 11:23). He was in constant 'danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of anxiety for all the churches' (2 Cor. 11:26-8)."
~ Elyse Fitzpatrick, taken from Give Them Grace
How many speakers have you ever heard introduced like this? For me, personally? Oh, I'd say... let me think... maybe, none. Yep, that's right. Zero.

Paul is saying that he is a credible follower of Christ because of these "credentials." Bam! Here is my list! Not where he studied or where he was from or who he learned from or what ministries he began or what books he authored or what articles he published or where he has spoken or what "gold medals" and other awards he has received from the world or where he has traveled or his desirability or how many people have accepted Christ because of his great witness... Instead, he flaunts his sufferings and trials and weaknesses.

Because if you can hold firm to faith in Jesus in the midst of such trouble as Paul endured, then that is the greatest accomplishment.

If I heard a speaker introduced in this way, then I don't think I'd miss a word.
"But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." ~ Matt. 19:30