From the Well - 2/21/2019

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Ephesians 3:1-7 (MSG) 
1 This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. 2 I take it that you're familiar with the part I was given in God's plan for including everybody. 3 I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief. 4 As you read over what I have written to you, you'll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. 5 None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God's Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. 6 The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I've been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board. 7 This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details.

There was a study conducted in Germany several years ago which found that people who frequently used first-person singular words like “I,” and “me,” were more likely to be depressed and have more interpersonal problems than people who often said “we” and “us.” Researchers, led by Johannes Zimmerman of Germany’s University of Kassel, pointed out that using more “I” and “me” words didn’t actually cause depression. Instead, the speaking habit probably reflected how people saw themselves and related to others.[1]

An important part of spiritual growth is the understanding that we need others in order to be the kind of servant leader God has called us to be. We need the “we” and “us” in our lives. In the Zulu language, the word “Ubuntu  is a shortened phrase that means, a person is a person because of other people. Servant leaders cannot truly be successful or helpful to the Kingdom of God without others. Craig Groeshchel in his book, Confessions of a Pastor, says, “If you are lonely at the top, it’s because you didn’t take anyone with you.” I often hear people in leadership positions complain that no one will help them. Servant leaders learn to mentor and bring others along. Paul was a servant leader who knew about bringing others along.

Paul’s ministry was based on the foundation that was already established by Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. Jesus made the sacrifices that He did and mentored others (The disciples) because He wanted God’s Kingdom work to continue into the future through people like Paul, you, and me. Servant leaders see future needs and make the sacrifices necessary in order to bring them to fruition. They also invest themselves in others. Paul saw the need for God’s church in the Gentile world and so he made the personal investments and sacrifices necessary in order to carry God’s message to Corinth, Philippi, Galatia, Rome, and Ephesus. This was His life work, “helping people understand and respond to the message,” as Eugene Peterson translates the text. What investments and sacrifices will you make? Think about it.

Matthew

[1]As suggested in an article by Rose Pastore, May 3, 2013.