DR. RICHARD HAMMILL'S concluding challenge in his expository study of Colossians at the recent Bible Conference conducted at Pacific Union College is especially directed toward the ministry of this church. His appeal centered around Paul's words recorded in verse 17 of the last chapter of this Epistle.
"Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it."
Although directed particularly to Archippus, who was probably a young minister in training in that area, these words are written "for our admonition." Archippus prob ably was pleased that Paul remembered to include him in his list of those being mentioned by name. Undoubtedly he spent many hours pondering such questions as, "What did Paul really mean to tell me? What did he mean for me to understand by those words?"
As we think through their significance for us, we might consider the words "take heed" to be a challenge to pause and reflect on what we are actually accomplishing in the ministry we have "received in the Lord." Have we really "fulfilled" God's purpose in calling us to this position of responsibility? Or are we perhaps just running in place, barely keeping up with the daily demands on our time?
In answering such questions, we must first of all recognize that God, speaking through Paul, does not intend for this probing examination of our ministry to add to the tensions and guilt that already tear the intensely earnest preacher desperately trying to be all things to all men in this chaotic age. Instead, He is most interested in our personal spiritual welfare, which is, of course, basic to our ability to serve and to get our priorities straightened out.
Our heavenly Father isn't so impressed with our busyness if it becomes a substitute for bearing fruit to His glory. He is saddened if our concentration on problems and programs deters us from claiming His promises and power.
In this last generation, which is not to pass until His purpose is fulfilled, Christ's commission and concern is not merely that of carrying forward the work of His church and extending our witness in the world. Ours is the challenge to cooperate with God in the final reaping of earth's harvest by fostering the "manifestation of Himself in His church." For "when the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people," and NOT UNTIL THEN, will He be able to "come to claim them as His own" (Christ's Object Lessons, page 69).
This is God's program for finishing His work and it's the only one that will finally succeed. The same reference tells us, "Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain."
Our great challenge, then, is to "take heed" to this ministry "received in the Lord," that we "fulfil it."