The Way of Evangelism - Co-workers with Christ.The whole of Ephesians 1.

At a certain point, Jesus gave his disciples what must have seemed a rather surprising teaching; that greatness was to obtained only through lowliness; and he used his own life and ministry as an example. He said: ‘Whoever wants to be great among you, must be your servant…
 
‘... and whoever wants to be first, must be your slave…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served; but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many’.  (Matt.20: 26-28).                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                              
To emphasise this point, he asked a question: ‘Who is greater, the one who is at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves’.
 
Just as the Lord Jesus sometimes worked alone; but more often carried out his ministries in the fellowship and companionship of others: so with each Christian, in every generation. Using an image of his, eventual, 'Second Coming' into the world; and of his followers being found working in a trustworthy manner; Jesus said: ‘It is like a man going away. He leaves his house, and puts his servants in charge … each with his assigned task; and tells the one at the door to keep watch’.
 
So, there is an image of the individual Christian getting on with given tasks, obediently and responsibly.
 
That same, individual Christian, is also called, as was Christ himself, to a greater and wider task; that needs to be undertaken, within the corporate life; fellowship, companionship and encouragement of others.
 
In the light of this, the Christ-inspired Paul was able to write, to a gathered body of people, rather than to the individual: 'Therefore: my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord: for you know that your labour for the Lord is not in vain’.
 
Christ's teaching; about working, through serving; shows that, although God doesn't need help from us, he chooses to reach out to people; through people.
Jesus used the image of the world being like a great field, with mankind, the crop to be harvested. He spoke of God the Father being 'The Lord of the Harvest'; and of Christians being co-workers with Christ, as souls were saved, and men and women brought into the Kingdom of God.
 
Whilst the scriptures command us to be humble; that is, to be 'low-lying' before the Lord; we are also instructed to be constantly and fully aware, of the sheer magnitude of our call to be co-workers with God himself, in the great matter of saving spiritual lives.
 
The scriptures teach us that Godly service is our true calling; and that humility is the manner in which things are best undertaken; for humility is the one virtue that will prevent pride; and ensure that all attention is given to the work in hand; and not drawn towards self.
 
Jesus Christ; whose time-span was very limited, for so great a task; gave his entire attention to the work he was called to do, which was to be Christ to the world immediately all around him: and, through training, love and encouragement, to enable his followers to be as Christ on that much bigger, physical scale; eventually reaching out to the whole world.
 
As something of an acted-out parable; and certainly as a very memorable example; Christ washed the feet of his disciples. It is important to remember the context within which that foot washing was done. It was immediately after the last meal that they ate together; with his arrest to follow within a couple of hours or so; and his death to take place the very next day.
 
Christ knew all about what was to happen to him. Nevertheless, right up to the last moment, his full attention was given to others; to the work in hand, until, eventually, at the cross, he said: ‘It is finished ’- and died.
 
God, who is the supreme realist, never asked his Christ for more than could be undertaken, and given: and so with Christ, in relation to his followers. No-one is ever asked to offer more into the service of God, than they have to give; but, at the same time, no-one is expected to offer less!
 
Of the woman who anointed his feet with costly perfume, Jesus said: ‘She did what she could’ - she gave all she had to give. He went on to say that, 'Wherever the gospel is preached, throughout the world, what she has done, will be told, in memory of her’.
 
In his teaching about the faithful, obedient use of what is entrusted to his followers; Jesus called the servant with the two talents, a ‘Good and faithful servant', every bit as much as that other servant, who had had five talents.
 
As said, God never asks us to do more than we can, but he doesn't expect us to do less.
 
St. Paul understood this perfectly, and lived by what he believed. He was able to write: 'Though I am free; and belong to no man: I make myself a slave, to everyone, to win as many as possible’.
 
Winning souls into the Kingdom of God, is what it is all about; but things have to be done in the God-appointed way. Christ taught; and lived out his own teaching; that ‘good works’ are the almost incidental result of seeking, finding and carrying out the Lord's will: through wanting to please him, because we love him.
 
Nevertheless, Christ also taught that the ‘good deeds’ in question, have their own importance, because they serve as both a pointer, and a witness ... a ‘pointer' to God, as the source of goodness; and a ‘witness' to the power of his love, at work in the lives of those who follow him.
 
As part of his teachings; what we call 'The Beatitudes'; Jesus said that his followers must: ‘Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father in heaven’.
 
This teaching, too, demonstrates that proper humility must be at work, for the 'good deeds' should not be undertaken to draw attention to self, but only in the service of others, and to the honouring of God.
 
This ‘honouring of God’, through faithfully undertaking and fulfilling his commands, is at the heart of most of what Jesus said and did.
 
In the story of 'The Woman at the Well', the Lord's disciples began to fuss around him, saying that he hadn't eaten properly, and Jesus replied: ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work’.
 
What kept Christ going, and was as 'food' to him, was a vision of consistent and faithful service; for the good of others, and for the love of God; and so it must be with Christ's followers.
 
Shortly before his death, but with his attention fully upon the task in hand, Jesus prayed a very special prayer to the Father; which was partly about his own faithfulness; and partly about the faithfulness of his disciples.
 
Jesus said, to God the Father: ‘I have brought you glory on earth, by completing the work you gave me to do’.
 
And speaking of his followers; he said: 'As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world; and glory has come to me through them’…
 
... Christians give that 'glory' to God: through their loving, and faithful, service of others: which directs hearts, minds and souls to the Lord.
 
May Christ's words: 'And glory has come to me, through  them’, apply to us, and some part of his prayer for blessing, be answered through us.    Amen.