I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. Romans 15:18-19
I’ve been looking at the passage above for some time now as part of my Holy Spirit word study. So often I’ve felt inadequate when it comes to the concepts of evangelism and mission. I’m not certified in any way, shape, or form to “lead a person to Christ.” I don’t know the Roman Road, haven’t memorized scripture, and I don’t have the “plan of salvation” written out in neat little brochures to hand out to people. And as far as mission is concerned…My health issues make me unsuitable for rebuilding roofs, painting kitchens or traveling in third world foreign countries. So it is easy to see how I feel unqualified and unable when it comes to evangelism and mission.
But what Paul is saying here is that none of that matters. He had been the model Pharisee until Christ called him on the road to Damascus—going to church every Sabbath, giving a tenth of everything he had (even the spices in his kitchen), and making sure he removed himself from the company of sinners so as to remain righteous. Because of this, he had great knowledge, was trained extensively in the God’s Word and had committed it to memory. He was capable and unhindered when it came to traveling throughout the world and was handy with tools. He had everything I feel I lack, but none of this was of value to him when it came to” leading the Gentiles to obey God.”
Instead, he relied on the Holy Spirit to open the eyes and ears and hearts of those Paul encountered. The Spirit used Paul’s life as the testament of God’s love. Paul’s witness to God’s grace in his life was, by the Spirit’s power, evident in Paul’s faith and in his sacrificial love for the people he met. Saul’s redemption and new life as Paul was a signpost to all – You too can have the healing and hope you see in me.
So of course I started to look at my own life looking for the signposts and the first thing I had to realize is that the signposts of my life are not there for me, but for others. So what is the Spirit saying to people through the example of my life? There have been many miracles of healing in my life and what I learned from them is that I am loved, I am not alone, and I have value. My past, as painful as it was, is not a wretched memorial of a time gone by, but a living breathing symbol of the hope of Christ in a sinful world.
This is the message the Spirit speaks to you through my writing and my living:
You are loved!
You are not alone!
You have value!