It is obvious at first glance that the Apostle Paul played and continues to play a crucial role in the formation and life of the Church. Yet he proudly calls himself a slave of Christ Jesus and humbly describes himself as chief of sinners. To add to this, Paul openly acknowledges his need and gratefulness for and dependence on others in his ministry. His relationship with Timothy was obviously one of loving, fatherly tenderness, but foundational to their relationship was the partnership they shared in their common work of the gospel. Paul clearly did not see his ministry as his “own thing.” But one which was not possible without all the support and prayers of partners he made in all the churches for which he cared. Here in Paul we see another example of Jesus’ Great Reversal—leadership as servanthood, not glorying or “lording it” over others, ministry as partnership, not “Lone Ranger,” self-sufficient heroes.
Through our reflection on different folks in Jesus’ life and the early Church, we see a glimpse of God’s upside-down (or perhaps, right-side up?) kingdom—community and family versus individualism and segregation, personal integrity and humility over against superficiality, empty conceit, and the temporal.
God’s new thing, which began in the descent of Jesus Christ to human flesh, continues to be incarnate in us, God’s chosen people. God has left us reminders and examples in these people and their stories of what it means to be a converted people who have been given a second chance. We are deeply privileged to be called co-laborers with God as we bear witness to the great plan to redeem and restore what we have destroyed to wholeness and holiness. Praise be to God!
—Ms. Susie Wong
- In what ways do you give to and serve others?
- In what ways do you allow others to give to you and serve you? Is this difficult for you? Why?
- Examine your different areas of ministry. How are you linked up with your church and supported by others in this ministry or is this your “own thing”?
How Do I Act?
- Read Romans 16:1-16, Colossians 4:7-18, and 2 Timothy 4:9-22. Discuss how these people ministered to Paul.Identify ways that you can be partners in ministry with someone in your congregation.
- Identify a local Christian ministry with which your church can begin developing an ongoing partnership through prayer and financial support.
- Identify a local congregation in a needy part of your community and seek ways to share your time and resources in partnering together with them in the ministry of the gospel.