“See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.”
~2 Corinthians 6:2b-3 (NRSV).
What an exasperated mood sprinkles the letter the Apostle Paul has written, and a climax is about to be reached here. This is something worthy of reflection whenever we consider anyone in any form of ministry for God.
The Acceptable Day
Due Christ’s obedience in ushering in the New Covenant we live in entirely acceptable circumstances. It is easy to take this momentous reality for granted; grace lives. The prophets of old could not say that.
Grace is all-encompassing. It’s designed to filter through all aspects of life.
If we add this “acceptable” thing with the following, we get a beautiful and God-anointed model for Christian leadership and discipleship.
The Acceptable Ministry
Paul describes in brief what he’s put up with for the Corinthians’ spiritual growth—and this not to lament anything; just to recognise the truth. He and his company of fellow ministers hadn’t done anything wrong, yet they’d been treated as if they had.
The ‘acceptable minister’ opens their heart and their lives to congregants; they expose themselves in love (within certain wise bounds). Congregants then have the responsibility—in God—to respect the space and care for the heart offered.
The trouble is none of this is obvious to the assuming attendees at church. Apt is the service model of secular life, viz., “What are we getting out of this minister?”
But God issues a different standard. This standard involves a spiritual quotient that’s discerned in grace—and only in grace. The world cannot understand grace, though it often subsumes it in deifying heroism.
God holds his ministers to special account. (And yes, that possibly extends to every Christian—for all Christians “minister”.) If this is the case—that ministers are judged to a higher standard by God—what place have we to judge beyond love?
The key thing to remember is the grace abundant in both the day and the ministry. Where the ministry is acceptable—i.e. no obstacles are set up—it should be rewarded with love, grace and compassion. This is so discouragement will not also be the obstacle to future ministry efforts, though the called will persist despite the treatment meted out. What God sets in motion is not easily stopped.
The Acceptable Acceptance
The message is simple. We should do all we can to pay appropriate tribute to all our Christian leaders who minister acceptably. We don’t take them for granted. And space is to be set up so they are not required to live up to worldly models for service delivery—though most ministers far exceed these anyway.
The acceptable acceptance is that we love our Christian leaders—as we do regarding the entire Body of Christ—without obstacle, and free is that love.
Grace is the byword of the Acceptable Day.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.