“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."
What is your life ultimately about? Is your life's purpose to provide for you family, or to find happiness, or to live life to fullest, or to help out the less fortunate? Most of us spend 40 hours a week or better working our fingers to the bone. Then on our nights and weekends we spend more time pouring into our families, our homes, and our communities. Why? What is all this ultimately about?
The Apostle Paul clarifies that our lives are ultimately about only one thing: testifying to the good news of God's grace. The above passage is an excerpt from Paul's speech to the Ephesian elders. He is saying goodbye to his friends as he journeys to Jerusalem. Even as the Spirit leads Paul to go to Jerusalem, He is continually warning him that he will be arrested and face persecution once he arrives. Paul continues on to Jerusalem anyway. Why? Because Paul considered his life worth nothing when compared to his mission of testifying to the gospel. He was prepared to lose his life if it meant that he could complete this mission. In fact, once Paul arrived in Jerusalem and was arrested we believe he spent approximately the next five years in various forms of imprisonment before being released. Church tradition tells us that later he was rearrested and martyred for his faith in Jesus.
Where does testifying to the good news of the gospel fall on your priority list? When was the last time you told anyone about the gospel or publicly associated with Jesus? Now some clever Christian might to try to weasel out of his conviction at this moment by reasoning that Paul was called to a higher level of commitment as a an apostle/pastor/missionary. But I think this is wrong. While it is true that God has placed a special call on the lives of apostles, missionaries and pastors, all Christians are responsible for being a witness to the good news of grace in Christ Jesus. In his letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul says this: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). This isn't true only of apostles but of all Christians. So then, if we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, then shouldn't our priorities match Christ's? Yes! All of us are called to testify to the goodness of the gospel. In fact, that is our most important job this side of heaven.
So I ask you again, are you telling others about Jesus? I pray that God brings to your mind at least one person right now that you can talk to about Jesus, and I pray that you will do it.
For further reading...
- Phil 1:12-18- Note that the Gospel increased because of Paul's imprisonment.