Our ministry is a call to a ministry of grace.
“Let your speech always be with grace.”
When Christ called the disciples to become fishermen of men, he presented a picture of evangelism that puts us in an active role of building his kingdom. To be a fisherman implies intentionality, focus, and activity. We do not catch fish merely by standing on the shore waiting for them to come. We must be intentional in our actions, going to people to call them to become participants of the kingdom. This also requires focus. It does not happen by happenstance but involves a deliberate act on our behalf. But it also consists of the activity of actually fishing. As Christ went about his ministry, he provided a model for the disciples in involved both message and action. The message was the call to repentance, and the activity includes ministering to the needs of people.
In Colossians 4:1-6, Paul further expands upon what is involved in being a kingdom builder for God. In these words, Paul highlights four necessary components of our service towards others. The first requires prayer. Paul begins by asking people to pray for his ministry that he will have the opportunity to share his faith with others. This is where our ministry of proclaiming God’s grace begins. It begins with asking God to give us opportunities to share what God has done and the boldness to declare his message without hesitation.
Second, Paul prays for clarity in his message, that he can fully proclaim the gospel so that the listener can understand it. Paul recognizes that we can easily cloud the gospel by adding to the message. The gospel is inherently simple. It is the proclamation that we have sinned against God, are facing the judgment of that sin by given the opportunity to receive forgiveness because of the redemptive work of Christ. Paul prays that he will be able to keep the gospel clear.
Third, Paul recognizes the importance of developing positive relationships with people. Evangelism is ultimately achieved, not standing of a box on the corner of a street calling people to repent (although God does use people in this way). It is accomplished over a cup of coffee and developing positive relationships with people. It involves building a connection with people that enables them to see the hope we have through Christ (1 Peter 3:15).
Last, to effectively be a fisherman of people, we need to focus on grace, both in our acts and our words. It is to engage people in such a way that we have the opportunity to share our faith. This comes when we communicate and demonstrate grace towards others. In a world divided by culture, politics, and morality, it is easy to become critical, judgmental, and harsh. It is far easier to condemn than it is to be gracious. However, when we become critical, we fall into the trap of the world. What controls our mind controls our life and governs our speech. If we focus is upon politics and the cultural and moral failures of man, we will see people as the enemy and become harsh in our response. But when our focus is upon God’s sovereign control of the nation and his calling for us to be ministers of grace, we will speak the truth but in love, not hatred.
Christ ministered in grace when he not only called people to repentance, but he also ministered to their physical and emotional needs. For us to follow in his footsteps, this also needs to be our focus. The tragedy is that we do one or the other, or worse, we do neither. But our calling is to minister to the needs of people so that we might share the gospel with them. Ask God to give you opportunities to do both.