Priority Number One

3 Apr

We live in a world that is full of serious problems.

I don’t know about you, but for me, sometimes it can become overwhelming. You turn on your television and you are constantly hearing about wars, protests in foreign countries, hate, anger, resentment, bitterness. And your heart breaks.

But then besides all the trouble in the world, you’ve got trouble that hits closer to home, trouble in families, marriages, and other relationships. With so much tension, with so many problems, we as a church, and as individuals are tempted to be drawn all sorts of different ways. There are many different good activities we could get involved in. But obviously, we’ve only got one life and we’ve only got so much time, and so as caring people it’s important we ask what’s the most important thing that we as a church can do? What is it that the world, our families, our friends, and even ourselves need most?

Looking at Paul’s ministry and Paul’s priorities help us answer that question.

Paul sums up his ministry in three words, “We proclaim Him…”

The word ‘proclaim’ means to announce or to deliver. It became almost a technical term for missionary preaching. Paul’s not talking about something he has done once or twice, but instead something he does continuously. This is what the ministry is all about – we’re continually proclaiming Him.

Just a quick look at Paul’s life proves that statement true.

Paul was persecuting the church, God saved him on the Damascus road, he met with Ananias, waited around for several days with the church at Damascus, then Acts 9:20, “immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying ‘He is the Son of God.’

In Acts 13:38 he’s on his first missionary journey and he sums up what he’s been doing by saying that what he’s been doing is proclaiming that through Jesus Christ there is forgiveness of sins.

He’s brought before the leaders of Athens in Acts 17:23 to be questioned about his faith. He courageously stands before them and says, “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown God.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance this I proclaim to you.”

In Ephesians 3:8 he explains that though he didn’t deserve it, God gave him the incredible blessing of being able to proclaim the riches of Christ.

He reminds the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2 that while he and Silas and Timothy were in their church, night and day they proclaimed the gospel to them.

I don’t want to be too obvious here, but as you look at Paul’s life and you consider this statement in Colossians, it becomes clear that the primary task Paul devoted himself to, was delivering a message.

I think that’s very significant.

Because there were many other things Paul could have devoted himself to. In Paul’s day, just as in ours, there were lots of problems. And Paul certainly could have devoted his life to feeding the poor, clothing the homeless. Or perhaps he could have devoted his life to overthrowing Nero, and dealing with the corrupt government.

But he didn’t.

Don’t misunderstand. Paul was concerned about the poor. In fact, a major part of his ministry was collecting money for poor believers in Jerusalem. But the fact is, as you look at Paul’s life you realize that he clearly understood his main responsibility was to proclaim a particular message. If he had failed to do that, he would have completely failed. Preaching the message God had given him was his top priority.

The same should be true for us as a church.

The most important responsibility we have as a church is to faithfully proclaim the message God has delivered to us in His Word.

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