Such is the confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. –2 Cor 3:4-6
I’ve been thinking about this passage a lot lately. I’ve stepped back from the campus this semester to raise support full-time. That’s how Chi Alpha staff make their living: we invite people to partner with us through prayer and financial support to reach the university campus for Christ. There is no central fund that pays us our salaries and the budgets we have to do ministry on campus. People who believe in the work God is doing in Chi Alpha participate in the ministry by funding us.
I’ve also had depression for more of my life than I haven’t. I inherited it from my father, a simple chemical imbalance. It means that no one is more aware of how inadequate I am to do God’s ministry than I am.
Whenever I engage in support raising, my brain immediately tells me I’m not worth it. That people are better off supporting someone—anyone—else.
My brain is partially right. In and of myself, I am not worth it. I am inadequate.
But that’s not the whole truth. It’s a partial truth, and one that our adversary uses on a daily basis to keep millions of Christians from doing the ministry God has called them to. But by itself it’s a lie.
One of the things people don’t seem to understand is that to be a Christian is to be a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is a tremendous accusation hurled at Christians on a daily basis. And the thing is that it’s true.
But I always have to say: Of course it’s true! We don’t make a secret out of it!
Following Christ is to follow perfection. Perfection is the standard. And we cannot possibly measure up to it. As long as we live, we will forever fall short of it. Every person has fallen short of the glory of God.
This means that, in and of ourselves, none of us are qualified. That’s one of the basic tenets of Christianity, and it’s foundational to becoming a Christian. If you were qualified, you wouldn’t need forgiveness.
Being imperfect, being only human, is a prerequisite for being a Christian.
Every Christian is called to be a minister. We are a nation of priests, according to the book of Hebrews. We have direct access to God because Christ is the one who intervenes for us in heaven, allowing us to approach God’s presence to the point where God lives in us at all times. We are always in God’s presence, whether we are aware of it or not.
So we are all ministers. And as I described in the last article, each of us is a letter to the world, a gospel showing the love of God. Every single one of us—including and especially you—is called to minister to the world.
Some do this as their sole vocation. But everyone participates in it, regardless of whether it’s their job.
And none of us are qualified for it. We’re imperfect people trying to show the perfect love of the perfect God.
And that’s where God steps in. God works with us. God makes us qualified to do the work.
God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called. –Overused Christian statement.
You’ve heard this said a million billion times. But it’s true.
If God only ever called the qualified, no one would be a minister. If God only ever called the qualified, then there would not have been any disciples of Christ, rather than the 12 and the hundreds and now the billions. If God only ever called the qualified, none of us would be here.
But God qualifies us. And, in so doing, God shows just how much he loves us.
This isn’t to say that you are automatically qualified and can do no wrong. I make mistakes, and I’ve been doing this for years. When God qualifies the called, God expects the called to work and to grow.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). God works in and with humanity. The Orthodox calls this synergy—that God and human work together.
And God uses this same synergy, not just in our salvation, but in our ministry. By myself, I cannot do ministry. But I rely on God, and God works in and through me to do amazing things on this campus.
Never buy into the lie that you cannot do ministry. God will do things in and through you that I could never do with Him. God has made you qualified to do ministry.
Your ministry flows out of your relationship with God. Which means you can take heart! God isn’t letting you do it alone, but He goes with you wherever you go! And with God on your side, nothing can stand in God’s way.