It has been nearly twelve years since the reform of the Chinese Evangelical Lutheran Church. As we resume our mission of pioneering and growing the church after the pandemic has eased, I think of Luther’s helpful discourse on “Christ as a Gift and an Example” (LW35:119):
Christ is first a gift and second an example.LW35:119
Such a concept reminds and exhorts each of our co-workers to first learn to “abide in Christ” and to focus on establishing our own intimate relationship with Christ, so as to receive the grace and power bestowed on us from above. Luther said, “Christ must first be a gift to us” before we can happily imitate Christ in our ministry. If our first step is to “just take Christ as an example”, to work hard in various evangelistic ministries, and hope that through our own gifts and efforts, we will be able to prosper the church again, that would be just to satisfy our own ambitions.
Do not forget! The core and foundation of the gospel we believe and preach is that you receive and acknowledge Christ, not as an example, but as a gift from God to you. As servants of God, if we cannot learn to receive the gift of Christ with faith, that is, to listen to and abide in Christ, then in all kinds of gospel ministries, we are not only laboring and burdening in vain, but will be proud of seeing the results of the ministry.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The teachings of Jesus point to two different kinds of servants and their results: a laboring and heavy-duty service that creates despair or proud servants; and a restful and light service that molds the humble who serve in Christ. May we who are co-workers with God all experience the joy and rest of the Lord’s presence in our service in Christ. Let’s share.