I have heard people say that they wish they could have served with apostle Paul. They wish that they could have had the opportunity to be with him, to learn from him, to see him in action. No doubt that he was an incredible man who God gave a great vision for the Church and trusted him with the gospel of grace. But I don't think many of us would have been comfortable around him. I don't think many of us would have been comfortable around many of the great men and women of the faith; not with what passes as Christianity these days.
Paul worked tirelessly in faithful obedience to Jesus, to complete the task he was given. He was a man driven by love, dedicated to the only one who mattered to him. For Paul it was all about Jesus. He was not divided in heart and mind. He was not overburdened by the cares of this world. He wasn't trying to save for retirement. He wasn't trying to make the Church relevant to society. Paul's only concern was presenting Jesus to a world that needed to know him.
People like this are hard to be around. The expect much of themselves and anyone who is associated with the mission. If you were going to be on Paul's team you were going to have to take Jesus and your calling very seriously. He would expect you to adhere to Jesus' words when he told us that to follow him was all or nothing. I don't think many of us would have lasted with Paul because we just don't understand this singleness of purpose. We have too many desires and concerns in this world. We are divided in heart and mind.
If you were told that your life would end tomorrow could you say along with Paul:
Now the time has come for me to die. My life is like a drink offering being poured out on the altar. I have fought well. I have finished the race, and I have been faithful. (2 Timothy 4:6-7)
Can you describe your life as a drink offering, being poured out in an act of sacrificial love? Have you set aside all concern and all desire for yourself and dedicated every day to the will of the Father? Is the salvation of others always on your mind so you are always looking for opportunities? Or are you hoping simply to arrive on that Day with your salvation in tact? Are you only concerned with your own condition and lot in life?
Are you fighting well? Do you stand in the face of evil and proclaim Jesus? Do you pray for the lost? Do you fight for your friends, family and neighbours? Do you proclaim the gospel and teach people about the love of Jesus, taking every opportunity to share your testimony? Does this describe you?
Are you faithful? Are you obedient in love to what Jesus has commanded? Are you following his example? Is he what you measure your life against? Are you still running the race that has been set before you; the path that Jesus put you on? Are you faithfully following his direction for you, no matter the cost or difficulty? Are you going all the way with Jesus, no matter what?
I don't think many of us would be comfortable in the presence of the great warriors who have gone before us, but that really shouldn't be our concern. Our real concern should be: Will we be comfortable in the presence of Jesus on the day we are called home, or will we stand in shame for a life wasted and an opportunity lost?