by Ruth Olsen
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… a great door for effective work has opened to me … (1 Corinthians 16:9a).
Read 1 Corinthians 16:1–9
How aware are you of what is happening in the church in another part of the country? If struggle or hardship was happening somewhere else, would you be willing to help in some way if you could, working through the leadership?
The Apostle Paul was very aware of the ‘wider picture’ of the church, from Jerusalem and through Asia, regularly keeping people in different places in his prayers, as he mentions in his letters. To the Corinthians in our reading, he gives some wise strategy on gathering and holding a financial collection to help the Christians in Jerusalem. Paul would write letters of introduction to go with those selected to take the gift, and ‘if it seems advisable for [him] to go also’, Paul is happy to do so. He doesn’t take over but submits to them for their decision in this matter, modelling servant leadership.
Paul then speaks of his possible travel plans and his hope of spending time with the Corinthians, God willing. But there is intention in verses 8 to 9 to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost because:
- A door for effective work opened to him.
- There were many who opposed him.
That sounds like hard work, tension and conflict, doesn’t it? But Paul sees it as an opportunity! He is willing to deal with the challenges and inconveniences caused by those who oppose him, looking beyond to the opportunity set before him. He will not be deterred by ‘the wind and the waves’ (Matthew 14:22,32) of opposing circumstances, but instead, he is available for what the Lord could do through him there in Ephesus. As the writer of Hebrews urges: ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus … who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame’ (Hebrews 12:2,3).
Struggles, difficulties, pain and suffering will come our way in our broken world. We are not immune. But are we willing to ask the Spirit to show us Father’s plans and purposes beyond our circumstances? To stand with Jesus, saying, ‘Here I am, Lord; send me’?
Father, we give you our fears and insecurities. By the power of your Spirit, through Jesus, move us with you in what you are doing. Amen.
Ruth thoroughly enjoys what opportunities ‘retirement’ provides to see more of this beautiful country. When you are reading this, Ruth and her husband Steen will be wandering somewhere in Western Australia with their caravan, probably marvelling at the brilliant diversity of wildflowers to be found there.