By Rev Angela Bosfield Palacious
The Apostle Paul writes to the Romans the following sentences concerning his call to ministry: "Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit." (Rom 15:16 NIV).
We are the Gentiles. We are people who are non-Jews. We are the nations who would be blessed by the promise made to Abraham in the Old Testament, and we are represented by the foreign magi who followed the star to Bethlehem.
Paul had a specific call to a particular people. How effective was his ministry? We need only read the many letters he wrote to the widespread churches he founded or supported pastorally to understand that the Damascus road experience never diminished in its power:
"This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
"I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things." (Ephesians 3:6-9 NIV).
Are we an offering acceptable to God? Are we being sanctified by the Holy Spirit? That remains to be seen. We who are still being transformed have to renew our commitment daily if we wish it to be true in our lives.
It is much like training for a sporting event:
1. We have to be hungry enough to make devoted obedience to God an all-consuming goal.
2. We have to practice in a way that shows us to be truly dedicated to the idea.
3. We have to make sacrifices in order to stay focused.
4. We need a support team to help us to be faithful.
5. We need passion, talent and gifts of the Spirit.
6. We need to be willing to learn from and be mentored by seasoned people.
7. We need to observe, discuss and emulate the best examples.
8. We need to be able to be faithful whether we have a cheering crowd or an empty stadium.
9. We may have to be solo sometimes, even as we belong to a team (Body of Christ).
10. We know that others have gone before us, others will come after, and we in the present all have our contribution to make.
Jesus Christ has already set the world record that will stand forever. He is the perfect One with the perfect score. We can only hope to come closer to the standard that He has set. Here is how we are to pray for ourselves and pray for others to do the same:
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19NIV).
We are Gentiles, chosen by God to also be in the Family of God. There is a price that has been paid and a battle that has been won. The expectation is that we will allow the Holy Spirit to begin and complete a great work in us. Let us bring home to heaven our spiritual gold medal.
• Rev Angela Palacious, a motivational speaker and author of several devotional books, is an Anglican priest. She may be contacted at 393-9000 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.