“ Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”
I would call this one of the biggest understatements in the whole bible. Paul was the founder of the church, he disciple the believers, he taught pastors to take over those churches, and now he was encouraging them with his letters. If he should pass away, the churches would see it as a great loss. The primary person in the whole church would be gone. You might liken it to the Pope dying, and the loss the Catholic church feels in those moments. Only I believe the impact of Paul’s death would be greater than that.
But we all know that Paul eventually passed away, and the church just kept on growing. Tremendous persecution came on the church in the coming years. They were crucified, burned at the stake, imprisoned, thrown in the arena to fight hungry lions and gladiator games. Not until Constatine came around and stopped this persecution in 313 AD did they find peace for their group. But through all this persecution the church kept growing. Their mentor, Paul, must have done a tremendous job for this to happen.
Are you discipling someone? Have you taken someone under your wing and helped them navigate through their growth in Christ? I have several, and will share about one. I met Rich at Pure Life Ministries in 2008. We both had tremendous pride problems, and that is the main focus of this exceptional ministry – helping people realize and deal with their pride. I had been there 6 months when Rich arrived, and we bonded instantly. We prayed together often, and shared our lives.
I left the ranch in December, and Rich got in touch with me when he got home in June. His family was in shambles because of his sin, and he was devastated. I helped him to see ways to drop the pride and work humility into his life, and slowly he began to hold onto those principles. And his family started to notice. Today, two of his children have moved closer to him with their families and they have a great relationship. The other two children also have renewed their relationship with him, and his wife is more loving than she has ever been. It’s a true miracle, and I am humbled that God would use me in such a way.
I say all that not to boast, but to help you see how much we can affect someone else’s life. Paul affected many, and God calls us to do the same. We are supposed to make disciples, not just get people saved. When we make disciples, they will carry on when we are gone. Jesus told us this was our duty in Matthew 28:19:
“Lord, make me a fisher of men, and once I have brought them to you, help me to mentor them and disciple them so they can be vessels of honor. Bring to me those who are hungry for the gospel, hungry to grow in the faith, and hungry to reach others for your glory. Give me wisdom to teach them right, and fill them with your wisdom.