In this final post on how Paul understands the ministry of the gospel in Colossians 1:24-29, we want to look at the goal and source of this ministry. Again, this is not about what pastors do or professional evangelists, but indirectly what each person is summoned to be and do — anyone, in other words, who is working with another.
First, the goal of ministering the gospel to others is to present everyone perfect in Christ. 1:28: “so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” This, naturally, raises questions, and the first one is always this: what is perfect? I suggest we look at 1:22 where we see that Jesus’ own work was to reconcile us through his death to present us “holy, without blemish, and free from accusation” (which is real catchy in Greek but not poetic in the NIV).
Put together, then, the image is this: a genuine minister has as her or his goal the moral perfection of those to whom she or he ministers. The goal is not fame or success or larger crowds but the moral development of others. (It isn’t hard to see that this is both a present goal and a eternal goal.)
Let us remind ourselves of something: if we don’t know what we are aiming for, we will likely miss the target. Let us also remind ourselves of something else: this work is not ours, it is the work of God, the Holy Spirit — as we see next.
Second, Paul speaks rather pregnantly of the source of ministry. Whatever we are called to do — and it can go right through the list of our relationships to family and to anyone — is to be a struggling “with the all the energy God so powerfully works in us” (Col 1:29). The source of gospel ministry is the energy of God at work in us through the Spirit.
This has been a good experience for me to look again at how Paul understands gospel ministry.