"But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you." Acts 26:16
The apostle Paul is deemed one of the greatest Christians in the New Testament, a best selling author, founder of the Gentile church, a former Pharisee of Pharisees, biblical scholar and finally his greatest accomplishment: martyred for the cause of Christ! Paul suffered greatly as a minister of the gospel on his journey across the known world and overcame unbelievable obstacles in his quest to establish the church of Jesus Christ.
Not many men can say to someone, follow my example, but Paul could because he paid the ultimate price to follow Jesus and gave up his life to further the message of the truth. How can today's so-called Christianity stand in the light of a ministry of a man totally sold out for God? Can our comfortable cathedrals, Starbucks coffee, theatrical productions, drama and ceremony compare to a man who gave all and died in obscurity? When we stand at the judgment seat can we testify like Paul that we denied ourselves, took up our cross and followed Jesus with all of our heart?
Was Paul any different from us, deserving of such trial, tribulation and suffering or was he just a freak of nature, a glutton for punishment if you will? No! Paul was what a normal believer looks like, not that we all will suffer as much as he did, but nonetheless we are supposed to be like him in respect to our devotion and undying selflessness in giving up our lives for the Lord Jesus Christ! Anything less is just mediocre!
Are they ministers of Christ? I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the wilderness, in perils of the sea, in perils of false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness, besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. II Corinthians 11:23-28
Your servant in Christ, Tim Laughlin