by Martin Oldfield
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‘We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life’ (2 Corinthians 4:13).
Paul was the evangelist to the Gentiles and a church-planter extraordinaire, and he got a hard time for his efforts. He was telling the good news of the resurrected Jesus to a mostly unreceptive world. False prophets were using flashy methods to undo the gospel message that Paul was giving (2 Corinthians 11), and there was grumbling among the church members (1 Corinthians 1:10–13). He was continually addressing problems that arose within the new churches that diverted attention from the message of grace.
Sound familiar? Can you think of any televangelists preaching a prosperity gospel? And who has not seen grumbling and disunity within our churches? And hasn’t our materialistic, consumer-mad culture diverted much of our attention away from the gospel message of grace? Is there any reason why we would think that the task given to us today should be any easier than Paul had it?
What was Paul’s answer to these challenges? ‘We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life!’ And why did he take this approach? To glorify God: ‘more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise’. Paul issued a challenge to us in the 21st century – don’t keep the good news a secret. Don’t expect an easy time. Jesus says, ‘Go and make disciples’ (Matthew 28:19), and we say, ‘But I can’t do that’ or ‘I’m not gifted like that’. But he answers, ‘Maybe you can’t, but with me you can’. There are endless ways of spreading the good news – what ways come to your mind?
Dear Dad, loving you is easy; loving our neighbour is a little harder. But this making of disciples bit is a big stretch. There are so many distractions. Please give me the courage and the words to say when needed so that more and more people can come to love you. Amen.