BULLETIN ARTICLE – 5 November 2017
“They’re going to be safe. Good luck to everybody. Good luck.” That was President Donald Trump’s message to the Texans before the impending landfall of Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm that hit Texas on August 25, 2017. It caused about US$180 billion in damages. That was more than any other natural disaster in US history, except for the largest estimates of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction.
Wishing people “Good luck” when things ahead are not clear is a very common encouraging wish in today’s human relationships. However, luck was clearly not on the Apostle Paul’s mind while he was writing to the Corinthian Christians in Ephesus. “For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me” (1 Cor 6:7- 9). Paul was open to the Lord’s leading to spend the time in Ephesus and to wait until Pentecost to visit the Corinthian Christians. For Paul’s work in Ephesus, Luke recounted in Acts 19:10-11, 20: “This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.”
In Christian service, the work is not based on good luck and wishful thinking. There is much toil, agonizing in prayer and, overcoming difficulties and hardships. In another letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul wrote: “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger” (2 Cor 6:4- 5). If it is so difficult, what then is the motivation for Christian service? The message for the world is that it is more than just a terrible storm coming. “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (Heb 9:27-28). There is an impending judgment that will send the unbelievers to eternal condemnation. But there is also a way of salvation, that is people can come to believe and to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. The door is wide open, in spite of challenges, for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus and for us to do Christian service.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58).