I don’t know about you, but in some circles, I’ve found Christianity to be very judgmental. No, not about sin, but about other Christians. I’ve heard so many believers commenting about a ministry they saw on TV.
“I don’t know if they’re really saved. I’d never preach like that.”
As we go through Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we see that the apostles understood the Gospel. The message will always be Jesus Christ – crucified, buried, risen, and ascended. The methods we use to bring out the message will always change.
Here’s what Paul found when he met with the apostles in Jerusalem.
As for those who seemed to be important — whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance — those men added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.
I think that it’s interesting to note what Paul had to overcome. When he met with Peter, James, and John, he knew that formerly they were fishermen. None of them had any Temple training like Paul did. Yet he humbled himself and submitted his ministry to their scrutiny.
This is a sermon in itself. There are times that God has us serving under people who aren’t as smart, trained, or experienced as us. We have to watch our attitudes, stay humble, and be committed to our calling in Christ.
But what I really want to bring out is that in this meeting, the apostles understood that there was a Gentile method of preaching and a Jewish method of preaching. They didn’t try to change one another. They realized that there’s no cookie cutter for the ministry.
The methods may change depending on who you’re trying to reach with the Gospel. I find that this alone causes a lot of strife in the body of Christ.
“I just visited a church where they let their people take coffee with them into the sanctuary. I think that’s sacrilegious.”
“That pastor preaches in jeans and a t-shirt, how can he be a real minister?”
The simple fact is that my methods and personality will never speak to everyone. If we want the world evangelized; different cultures, generations, and education levels; then we need to embrace the different ministries that are speaking to these people.
For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
The bottom line is that in all of these methods, the Holy Spirit is at work. People are being saved. Lives are being changed by the power of God.
Yes, there may be some churches that I wouldn’t feel comfortable attending. But that simply means that their method doesn’t speak to who I am. It in no way invalidates that ministry. I’m glad that the work of the Gospel is not limited to my comfort zone.
Question: How often do you pray for ministries that are very different from yours?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017