After spending a very long chapter on the resurrection where he takes his readers to new levels of confidence, meaning and hope because of the resurrection of Christ and the dead, Paul comes back down to earth and the here and now. It almost seems like a downer but the truth is as much as we would like to live with the hope of eternal life in our hearts and we should we have to get back to the world we live in for now and engage in practical ministry.
In this passage Paul does what he does many times which is in the context of the resurrection and eternal life and that is to remind his readers that life goes on and ministry must continue. In this passage he address the collection for the famine stricken saints in Jerusalem, makes not of his plans for future travel and asks the saints at Corinth to take care of Timothy and Apollos should they come to the city. Paul dealing with the practical issue of ministry from provision, to prayer to hospitality.
Many Christians often feel that this part of following God is not as exciting as many others but practical ministry is ultimately where the rubber meets the road when it comes to sharing the gospel, ministry to the poor and just getting things done for Jesus’ kingdom. The two great mistakes to make about practical ministry are 1) not to do it because we think there are far more important issues and 2) think our contribution will not be significant.
Our testimony is a great part of this and many people think that their testimony is insignificant because God has done little for them. That is of course absurd given that God saved them. Let me repeat that – God saved them. Salvation is a great miracle and it should be shared as much as possible as part of practical ministry. That, along with doing the work of ministry is what draws people to the gospel.
The crossroads is clear. You can either understand that the glories of the gospel are moved along and made manifest through practical ministry to others or you can simply live in the world of the resurrection without concern for others. Paul understood the nature of the resurrection and the gospel required practical ministry and work. We should do the same.