“Word for Today” – Galatians 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

April 15, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

resume-1My wife, Melody, grew up at Concordia.  As a little girl, she went to school here.  As a middle schooler, she was confirmed here.  As a high schooler, she was part of the youth group.  And then, upon graduating from college, she taught here for five years.  But then she met a guy.  A pastor who was working in Corpus Christi, actually.  And she married him and moved down to the Gulf Coast to be with him.  But now she – and he – are back.  And I am so glad we are.  It is a privilege and a blessing to be a pastor at Concordia.

A while back, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who asked how I “landed” my job at Concordia.  I explained that I didn’t land my job.  After all, it wasn’t as if I went looking for it.  I simply received a phone call asking if I might be interested in working at Concordia and things proceeded from there.  “But why did they call you?” my friend pressed.  It was then that I explained the warm rapport that my wife has had with this congregation and how the Lord used that long standing relationship in his providence to call us both to San Antonio.  “Oh,” my friend replied with a twinge of incredulity in his voice, “So it was all in who you knew.”  “I don’t think of it like that,” I demurred.  “Instead, I believe the Lord used relationships we already had to accomplish his will for our lives.”  But there was no redirecting my friend’s cynicism.  He was convinced that course of my life was driven by a kind of crass “good-ole-boy” system with little or no guidance from the hand of God.

Sadly, this mentality is all too common.  “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” the old pessimistic proverb protests.  And it is this kind of mindset that Paul encounters in our reading for today from Galatians 1.  Paul writes, “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ” (verse 11-12).  Apparently, the veracity and authenticity of Paul’s preaching and ministry were being called into question by some outside the Galatian Christian church.  “He doesn’t really know what he’s talking about,” the claims must have went.  “He just hung out with Peter, James, and John, learned some stuff from them and then leveraged his connections to strike it big on the preaching circuit.” 

But Paul vigorously defends himself against these kinds of assailments:  “I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus” (verses 16-17).  Paul’s ministry, he insists, is not based merely on knowing the right people.  Rather, it’s founded on the call and will of God, as Paul himself proudly proclaims in the very first verse of his letter to the Galatians:  “Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (verse 1).  Indeed, as Paul freely admits, his ministry could not be based on his “connections” because the “connections” to his past are actually quite shady:  “I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it” (verse 13).  Thus, it’s not as though Paul was a rising star in the church before his ministry breakout.  No, he was an enemy of it.

This, then, is one of the cardinal doctrines of ministry:  It is not a person’s connections which makes a minister, it is the Lord.  And this is good news for every one of us.  Because this means that every one of us, regardless of our background or connectedness, can minister to and serve others in the name of Jesus.  And this ministry can be as simple as offering someone a friendly “God bless you” when they appear forlorn or as involved as heading up a large ministry organization.  But that’s up to the Lord, not to us.  And thank God it is.  Because although we are connected to only a relatively few number of people, God is connected to each and every one of us.  And God wants to use his connection to you to deploy you in his ministry.  Will you listen for his call today?

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – John 21 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Galatians 2 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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