“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24 ESV).
I imagine that I will be outing myself as a true nerd, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice if it helps you understand the Gospel and our role as disciples. I am a HUGE Lord of the Rings fan. The imagery contains some parallels with Christianity, but I want to focus on Frodo.
Frodo, for those of you out of the loop, is a hobbit who accepts the task of carrying a very powerful ring to be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. The task is bigger than Frodo, but he is helped along the way by others invested in his success.
The hobbits are small in stature, and rarely leave the Shire, “an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth. So when the situation called for action, it was surprising to everyone that Frodo rises to the challenge. He understands that his journey will be fraught with danger, and death is certainly a good possibility.
Frodo reminds us that God doesn’t choose us based on our qualifications; He chooses us based on our willingness to be used by Him… regardless of the cost.
We often make excuses for not doing the things that God calls us to do. “I’m not good with people.” “I don’t have any training.” “My life is just too busy, right now.” Moses made excuses too (the link will take you to an excellent short essay by Jean Boonstra), yet he went on to become a household name!
Moses and Frodo both had fears. Fear is natural. But the opposite of fear is faith. Ultimately they each faced their fears, knowing the importance of the task before them.
Paul understood his task as well. He knew that he would face persecutions, floggings, and death. But he knew his purpose was eternally important. And so he said, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24 ESV).
Realistically, neither you nor I will ever face the kind of treatment that Paul faced, and indeed suffered. We may be laughed at and mocked. We may lose friends. We may lose jobs. But it is unlikely that we will be killed for our faith. It is possible that some of you may face those things, and you have my prayers. But most of us have it pretty good.
So, when God asks of us that we would be willing to do whatever He asks of us, our excuses really don’t add up to anything.
We are all familiar with the Great Commission; we’ve all likely been similarly dodging it. We likely will never face Mount Doom, or stoning. Yet at the very least we should be willing to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” We should be willing to speak up without concern about ridicule or any other consequences. Jesus went to the cross for us; and not just you and me! He went to the cross that all may find forgiveness through Him.
If we hold out, if we fail to testify, if we cannot be found willing to even open our mouths to speak of God’s great love, we are dooming a whole generation. We can’t assume that someone else will step up. It is a task for all of us.
Blessings on your weekend!