Have you ever been called upon to make a presentation or important announcement? If the situation was a happy one, to make the announcement is both a great responsibility and a huge honor. Even if the situation was unpleasant, the responsibility to break bad news is a big responsibility.
The apostle Paul felt that sense of occasion, honor, and responsibility when it came to telling people about Jesus.
“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles-- assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery.” (Eph. 3:1-9 ESV)
There are several interesting thoughts, here. The use of the word, “mystery” (something previously unknown or hidden); some of the nature of being an apostle; and the new relationship that Gentiles (non-Jews) have with God through Jesus.
But what arrested my attention was Paul’s phrase, using a different translation: “God gave his grace to me … to preach the gospel.” As Christians, we do not seem to give any appreciation for the unusual privilege it is to tell the gospel.
Even today there is a certain sense of responsibility or honor (depending) that is implied by telling either bad or good news. Who tells a political candidate that he has lost the election? Not some random flunky. It will be the candidate’s campaign manager. The manager, who shares the responsibility for how the campaign turned out, will be the bearer of bad news. Who tells the candidate that they have won? Again, not some flunky – the manager, the candidate’s spouse, or someone very important because it is a great honor to tell that good news.
When the nation was told that President John F. Kennedy had died, it wasn’t the desk nurse of the Pediatrics unit – it was the highest ranking available Press Secretary. When a man landed on the moon, it wasn’t a NASA press release, it was “Uncle Walter,” the network anchorman Walter Cronkite, who most of us were watching.
The giving of important news is a profound honor.
The gospel of Christ – the good news about Jesus – is the most important news in history. And we, as Jesus followers, are allowed to give it. The apostle Paul called this a “grace,” an unmerited favor, something good that he doesn’t deserve. And that is our situation, as well. We have the news about Jesus and it is our privilege and honor to share that information.
So, Paul’s response resonates with me and I feel God’s affirmation. God has given to me certain gifts, such as the privilege and responsibility to share the gospel, yet I am a very broken human being. I do not deserve that honor.