It’s end of June! Half of 2018 has passed. Have you been steadily progressing through your goals you’ve set for yourself at the beginning of this year? Often, I find myself asking for more time and strength to go the extra mile. More than ever, it’s increasingly hard to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Not only are there bills to pay, bosses to please and babies to pamper, there are also big geo-political movements beyond our control. Who would have imagined that US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong-un would shake hands in Singapore!
For pastors and missionaries, we have duties, decisions and deadlines to follow. It’s no wonder that we feel discouraged and even disillusioned. Have you ever wondered how we can go the extra mile without burning out nor losing heart? How can we have the power to persevere and progress far beyond all that we can ever ask or think?
The Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Gentiles (Eph 3:14-21) exhorts them “to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (v. 16). Even though our outer man may be slowly wasting away, “… yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16). Our culture tells us that our skin colour, body weight and even hairline are important for success. In some churches today, the size of your church building, the annual budget and number of believers attending a Sunday service are all that counts for “successful ministry.” But Paul tells the Ephesians that those are temporal and external. What is important is our inner man. But how are we to be strengthened in our inner man? In Paul’s words, how can we “do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (v.20)? How are we to go the extra mile?
To go the extra mile, we need to go to our Messiah (vv.17-19)! And not just allowing Jesus to be a tourist in our lives, but a permanent tenant! Notice the series of purpose clauses that leads to this strength in the inner man: Let Christ dwell in us through faith, and be rooted and grounded in love. When we allow Christ to build His permanent home in us, we will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit (v.16; 18a), surprised by the depths of His love (v.19a), and be satisfied with all the fullness of God (v.19b). What a wonderful prayer!
But what surprised me most in this passage is the importance of community. I almost missed out what Paul had in mind. Notice Paul exhorts the Ephesian Gentiles to “comprehend with all the saints” (v.18a) the love of Christ. We cannot go the extra mile alone! We need each other! We are designed to be together. This past month, I served in three countries. Whether it was breakfast in Ho Chi Minh city, a cup of coffee in Bali or dim sum in Guangzhou, I met with our faithful alumni and heard their stories. Some recently graduated. Others have been serving for decades. Regardless of their ministry context, I heard a common refrain… it’s lonely to be in ministry alone!
This is where your alma mater can help. Register with us for our Homecoming on 24th September. Come to our week-long SOTE 60th anniversary conferences. Upgrade your homiletical skills by going for the Eagles’ Preaching Conference for only $50. Need someone to talk to and process some of your emotional and relational issues? Consider making an appointment with our counsellors at The Haven. There is so much more we can do together to experience the love of Christ and to go the extra mile! Let us walk this journey with you!
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Grace and peace