I don’t have any reason to boast about preaching the Good News. Preaching is something God told me to do, and if I don’t do it, I am doomed.
Paul does not preach the Good News because he wants to or because he gets paid. The Holy Spirit drives him onward, and because God has commanded him to preach, he feels doomed if he doesn’t.
He is not by nature a slave, but he enslaves himself to everyone in order to win them. So he lives as a Jew when he is among Jews and as a Gentile when he is among Gentiles. He does all this for the Gospel so that he can share in its blessings.
Paul had no reason to boast about preaching the gospel. It was God’s command for him to do this so he was compelled to do it.
When I stepped out of ministry with the Uniting Church to plant a new church, it was not a decision that we made lightly. We knew that God had commanded us to do that. One colleague said it was the bravest step of faith he had ever witnessed. But to my thinking it would be far braver to say “No” to God, knowing that you are being deliberately disobedient.
Sometimes God backs us into a corner, forcing us to say “Yes” in the hope of greater blessing.
For Paul the blessings were not always obvious. He was badly beaten, imprisoned, ship-wrecked and ultimately executed because of his obedience. Yet it was in these times that he knew the greatest sense of the presence of Christ.
For most of us the steps of obedience come in small daily decisions that lead us inexorably to the presence of Christ. We learn to obey and it feels like choosing a curse to do anything else.
Lord you always lay before us the choice of life and death, obedience and sin. Help me to choose your way every day. Amen.