Four years ago, I wrote a pair of posts called “They don’t need me…” and “… but God sent me.” These two posts were my own reflections on two passages of Scripture. But, they were also my reflections on a seeming contradiction/paradox. People need God, not me. But, God sends me. In the same way, God sends you, if you are one of his children. People need God; and God sends you.
… and [praying] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20 ESV)
Paul recognized himself as one called to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles, and yet he needed others to pray that he would carry out his calling.
Paul knew that God had called him to speak in Rome, and yet he asked for prayer for boldness.
Paul proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ in cities all around the Roman empire, and yet he asked for prayer to do what he ought to do.
Paul had the knowledge, the training, the experience, and the testimony, and yet he asked for prayer.
I’m glad that Paul asked the church in Ephesus to pray for him. I’m glad the he asked them to pray that he would have boldness to speak the gospel. I’m glad the he recognized that his knowledge, training, experience, and testimony would not provide what was necessary to bring people into God’s kingdom.
I also have knowledge, training, experience, and testimony. But, I also need prayer, because I need God, and those I speak to need God. I can give them words and I can give them service, but I can’t give them what they need. They don’t need me, even if God chooses to use me. They need God.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ESV)
In my previous post, I stated that they don’t need me, meaning that those outside the family of God need God himself, not me. In the passage above, I think Paul reveals the other side of this coin. While the world does not need me, God has sent me into the world as his ambassador, his representative.
As God sends me (and his other children) into the world, he sends us on a mission of reconciliation. This is interesting to me. God does not send us on a mission of condemnation, but reconciliation. Just as we have been reconciled to God, we have been give a service and a message of reconciliation to take to those who are not reconciled to God.
We implore… but God reconciles. We speak… but God transforms. We engage… but God brings into relationship with himself.
They don’t need me; they need God. I know God. They need the God that I know. I introduce them to God through a service and message of reconciliation. Through my service and message, God reconciles the world to himself.
They don’t need me; they need God. They don’t need me; but God sent me.