Trust me, you’ve already seen this movie a time or two: a pastor is asked to sit down to “hear what some people are saying” about the church’s current ministry. The lines are so tired, you can parrot them as they’re spoken: “The sermons are weak. The flock isn’t being fed. There’s too much emphasis on the community. What about us?”
The twist is there’s a closeup on the pastor’s face, and it’s the Apostle Paul. Except this isn’t much of a twist when you know his letters and how he had to constantly defend his ministry.
But perhaps less familiar is the actual outworking of Paul’s defense who, instead of nursing hurt feelings or overcompensating, simply presented himself as a new creation in Christ. Accusations of weakness or even craziness only served to validate the efficacy of Christ himself.
In simplest terms, Paul essentially replied to his critics, “Yes, but Christ.”
There’s no plausible reason for ministry when it begins with something other than Christ and His benefits. By any other standard, the insult and injury just aren’t worth it.
However, Paul understood how Christ’s love is capable of overturning an upside-down world. He knew the incomparable power of a ministry which makes the old new. To possess it, no price was too high.
“For Christ’s love compels us,” Paul says “because we are convinced that one died for all…(so that) those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15, NIV)
Does ministry hold disappointments? Yes, but Christ.
Will it include backbiting and even betrayal? Yes, but Christ.
Will there be setbacks and failures? Yes, but Christ.
These days, more than a few are wondering if ministry is worth it. That’s understandable! The reasons it’s not are too many to count, so making the case for ministry is essential.
It begins with your own testimony as a new creation in Christ. Simply answer this question: How are you being changed for God’s glory because of Christ? Your personal story of life in Christ is the beginning and end to any compelling defense of ministry.
Indeed, it’s the only way you can say, “Yes, but Christ.”