As we come to the end of our series on work, we must ask one final question: is Gospel work, actually telling people the Gospel and helping people grow as Christians, the best and most important work in the world?
All Christians are committed to the spread of the gospel. The Holy Spirit has however gifted some with special responsibility to preach and teach the word of God and shepherd God’s flock (Ephesians 4:11). The significance of this responsibility may be judged by such things as, the prayer of Jesus that such people will be provided (Matthew 9:37-38), the special arrangements made for their support (1 Corinthians 9, 1 Timothy 5), and by the eternal consequences of their work.
We describe church activity as “the work of ministry”, but it must not be concluded that it is work in exactly the same sense as any other. It is unfortunate that in the modern world this ministry should be thought of as a profession or career. The historically basic rate of financial support for those in ministry is intended to signal that we are dealing with “work” of a different order. Indeed it is a responsibility which cannot easily be pursued, unless others work to provide for their needs, as is also the case with the young and the elderly.
Indeed, we expect that the work of the kingdom will demand that people will need to give up their ordinary occupations so that the work of ministry may be done effectively and will therefore need to be supported by others. Experience shows, furthermore, that the work of ministry is not always attractive in human terms – and thus it is not surprising that the need for workers is made a special subject of prayer by Jesus, who says, “the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Nonetheless, it is essential that those who do “the work of ministry” should do so with three things in mind:
(1) Their task is not a “job” or profession, but the exercise of a service. It is not defined in terms of whether it is part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid.
(2) Where the ministry of God’s word is able to be conducted “full-time”, it is only possible because others are working and providing. The minister can give up “all” for the kingdom precisely because others do not!
(3) Attention needs to be paid in teaching to the lives of people as ones created and redeemed, to the work which people do, how they are to conduct it, what the dangers are, what their motives should be, how the standards of the Christian life are to be displayed in the work-place, how they are to treat others, how they are to use their surplus money.
I am so thankful for all those you support to do the work of ministry in Campbelltown. Praise God for your work that supports their work which is His work.