I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV).
Imagine if God called an atheist to preach the Gospel. Or if He called Louis Farrakhan (or an Iranian mullah) to preach reconciliation with the Jews. Imagine if a Alec Baldwin went on the Tonight Show to preach for reconciliation in the name of Jesus.
That’s Paul. Think of the worst possible persecutor, the very harshest, the meanest guy you could meet and it was Paul. He relished what he did for a living: killing followers of “the Way.” He was a zealous follower of the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and lived in His temple in Jerusalem. That is, until a roadside meeting with that one true God shut, then opened, Paul’s eyes. The persecutor became the persecuted, and every time that happened, he doubled down on it. He gave thanks to Jesus for picking him, the most unworthy of servants, to become zealous for His message and carry it to places unknown.
Today’s verse changes direction from the last few. Keep in mind that this change of direction happens right after Paul warns Timothy to avoid false teachers and properly invoke God’s law. Paul has used the first part of his letter to remind Timothy that not everyone is for him…or Him. Now he begins a section of different instruction, outlining God’s grace and how it is a unique gift from the King to preach the faith to people who need to hear it.
Not everyone is called to that calling. I’ve never really felt it, other than the daily urge to write these word. I can’t do much but I can do this. Some pastors tell me that they innately knew they should become pastors. One told me it was like God slamming shut every other door in his life until he walked through the ministry one. Another seemed to relish being a pastor instead of “just a pig farmer’s son” (as if that’s something to be ashamed of…it isn’t).
No matter, to minister to others in the name of Jesus is a calling that I think each of us gets in our own ways. Some get it to be a full time job. Jesus molds our lives in unique ways. Have you ever thought that there are 7.2 billion ministers for Jesus alive right now? It’s true. Yet not all know it, or Him. So it’s up to us to use the gifts He gives us and the good fruits of His Spirit that are kindness, understanding, and love to help others along their way to Him. Imagine if God called an atheist to preach. Better yet, imagine how He’s calling you.
For further reading: Philippians 4:13, Acts 9:15, 1 Timothy 1:13
Lord Jesus, all my praise to You for putting Your love on my heart to follow and preach You in my own way.