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The Matter of First Importance

I’ve been in ministry, in one way, shape or form, for about 17 years now. I began in 2006, working as a volunteer, then became an unpaid intern at my home church, then was asked to fill in the director of Youth position in 2011, being ordained in November of the same year. I’ve have worked as a Youth Sponsor, homeless ministry team lead, youth camp leader, pulpit preacher, and so many other things, doing ministry across several states of the US, and even doing some volunteering for missions overseas (via internet conferencing). In all my years and various endeavors in serving the Lord, I have, many times, gotten distracted from the main goal. What I mean is this: sometimes, I feel that whatever I am currently involved with is the most important ministry. I get distracted, from even my first ministry (to my family), to make sure everything is working as it ought, or even diminishing other ministries of the church in favor of what I am currently doing.

Have you ever done that? Have you ever become so focused on your work for the Kingdom that you begin to think it is the only work in the Kingdom worth doing? To be honest, everything we do is for a time and a season. Yes, you heard me right. Each “new” ministry is something that has been done before, and it will either go on, or fade away when we have departed from that ministry, or from this life. Yet, loved ones, there is a ministry that we are to ALL be a part of, a matter of First importance, as the Apostle Paul puts it. That matter is simply this: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The ministry of reconciliation to God the Father through Christ the Son. This is the ministry of the whole Church, and should be the focus of EVERY ministry of the Church.

There is no financial stability, or sobriety, or feeding/clothing of the poor, or work with youth or Bible study, or building maintenance, or any other such thing that can save us. Not a single one. It is reconciliation to God the Father through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that saves us. There is no other way in which we can be saved except through Jesus Christ, and Christ alone. Everything we do needs to be pointing everyone we meet to this point. You might say “That’s too simple.” And it is, that we, and I mean all of us, can do nothing to save ourselves, and that Jesus needs to be the one to save. All we need to do is be messengers of that Gospel. It is the work of Jesus through the Holy Spirit that saves people, and the Gospel is the vehicle of that salvation. In Christ alone is our hope found. It is by His life, death, burial and resurrection that we have hope for renewed relationship with Christ. It Is because Jesus’ tomb is empty that we can put down our old lives and be born again and made new in Him. This is the matter of first importance. All others are secondary. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and your lips proclaiming His Good News to everyone.

Corinthians 15:1-49

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

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