Seeing the need of people: A passion for the Lost
“I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren”
When there is no cost to our faith the gospel becomes cheap. Recently it was reported that people were executed in North Korea simply because they had a bible in their possession. But this level of persecution has had a remarkable effect, instead of silencing the church, the church has grown. For the believers in North Korea, the gospel is so critical it is worth dying for. This is in shameful contrast to the church of America where people leave the church because it is has become inconvenient. We are quick to criticize and become divided because of politics, the response of the church to Covid-19, the type of music that we sing, and the lighting within the sanctuary. We attend church only when it is expedient and fits within our schedule and personal comfort. I wonder what would happen if the church in the United States faced the persecution that many are facing throughout the world? I fear what the response would be. It is no wonder that the church in North America is struggling for we have cheapened the gospel to the point where it is no longer meaningful or important.
But this was not the case for Paul. For Paul, the gospel was the hope of all humanity and the driving force of his ministry. For him, the church and the gospel were worth dying for. It is one thing to say your value something, it is quite another to sacrifice your life for it. Even when Paul was imprisoned for the cause of Christ, rather than complain and grumble, he rejoiced for it provided him greater opportunity to proclaim the gospel (Phil. 1:12-13).
The value he placed on the gospel is what drove him in ministry and gave him a heart and passion for people. The gospel is what drove Paul in ministry and governed his every thought and action (see 1 Corinthians 9:7). In this passage in Romans, Paul makes a remarkable statement, one that few of us would state. Paul states that he would be willing to even suffer the eternal punishment of hell if it meant the salvation of others. So impassioned was Paul about the lost condition of others, he was willing to give up not only his physical life for their salvation but even his eternal life as well. But as remarkable as this statement is, it is not surprising for in making this statement Paul reflects the reality of Christ in him for Christ did suffer God’s eternal judgment for us. This is what makes the gospel so valuable, for its worth is measured by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. To embrace the gospel is to recognize the lost condition of people and become passionate about their salvation. The value of the gospel is immeasurable. But to be transformed by the gospel is to see its necessity for all people. It is to value the salvation of people above all else, even life itself. When the gospel message costs us everything, its value becomes incalculable.
This causes us to examine our passion for the gospel and for the salvation of others. The gospel worth dying for is a message worth any inconvenience, any price, any sacrifice. The gospel worth dying for is a message that should drive and impassion us in life and ministry. How important is the gospel to you? How important is the salvation of people? For those in North Korea, it is everything.