The other week in Mexico my friend and colleague, Dick Ludy, pointed out something in our team devotions that made an impression on me. He was speaking about Paul’s statement in Romans 15.16:
“…to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (ESV)
I have often heard it said–and have said myself–that the only things we will take with us to heaven are not things at all, but people. I need to amend that–or even strike it from the record. As Dick pointed out, Paul says in this text that the Gentiles who would come to Christ through his priestly ministry of administering the “gospel of God”–through proclamation and the process of discipleship–would not be his to take with him at all. They would be an offering to God, which is appropriate because they are His whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
Christians–even those involved in vocational ministry who should know better–can be proprietary about their contacts and disciples, as if they somehow belong to them. This is a misunderstanding of the truth Paul is seeking to communicate and leads to a competitive spirit, jealousy, bitterness and other sins that bring reproach upon the name of Christ and interfere with the free course of the gospel in the lives of those who need to hear and understand it.
In Acts 5.14 tells us that after the Ananias and Sapphira incident “…more than ever believers were added to the Lord...” (emphasis mine.) All believers are added to the Lord–this is Paul’s point–because they are His. He bought them, after all. He adopted them. He married them. He created them.
When I finally see Him my heart will be full, but my hands will still be empty.