ministryarticlepicPaul, a minister of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the ministers of the Church of the Nazarene in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who humbled himself to the point of death on the cross for the redemption of all creation and in the ministry of the Spirit who intercedes on our behalf: Grace and peace to you.

I am grateful to God for your ministry in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, remember you constantly in my prayers. I pray that the God of all mercy and strength will fill you to overflowing for the praise of his glory. I pray that you will remain steadfast in your hope and that your ministry will be rooted deeply in the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Not only have you been made alive in Christ, but you have been enveloped in the divine mystery of Trinitarian love.

In these days of uncertainty do not lose heart. I urge you to consider the abundant grace and peace poured into your life through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember your former way of life when you were dead in your trespasses and sins. But you who were once dead A Ministry of the Grace and Peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ A Contemporary Pauline Epistle to Nazarene Church Leaders have been made alive in Christ. Not only have you been made alive in Christ, but you have been enveloped in the divine mystery of Trinitarian love. This is our message. This is our hope. As you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, continue to live your lives rooted and established in him.

I am thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has strengthened and appointed me, even though I was formerly a sinner. As the chief of sinners I am overwhelmed, wondering how I’ve been included in the redemptive work of God. This refrain from a Wesley hymn expresses my joy:

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?*

But I, having received grace upon grace, have been welcomed into the household of God – the Church of Jesus the Nazarene. Called and commissioned by the will of God and the affirmation of this church I have been made an ambassador for Christ. Together we have been entrusted with a message of hope, holiness, and wholeness. We are ambassadors of grace and peace. So we do not lose heart.

I offer you these instructions, my brothers and sisters, in accordance with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that by following them we might be faithful participants in God’s plan of redemption and holiness. Let us not be distracted by the novelties and distractions of this age or weighed down by the fluctuation of the marketplace.

I urge you, then, to allow the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ to rule in your hearts and guide your lives. And be thankful.

This rule of Christ encourages and guides us to place ourselves before God daily as a living sacrifice in order that we might be transformed and continually reminded of the magnificent love of God shed abroad in our hearts and lives. Therefore, let us devote ourselves to prayer, offering our thanksgiving, supplication and intercession for the world, our communities and one another believing that the Spirit of God intercedes on our behalf. Act wisely. Offer hospitality to strangers. Put on the Christ clothes of meekness, compassion, humility, and patience. Visit those locked in prison. Forgive one another, just as the Lord Jesus Christ has forgiven you. Love one another. Extend the grace and peace of God to all of creation. Advocate justice. Seek reconciliation. Allow the glory of God in Christ to illuminate your actions and animate your being. Contribute generously to the needs of others. This is who God has called us to be as people of the Nazarene. This is to be our way of life.

Love one another. Extend the grace and peace of God to all of creation. Advocate justice. Seek reconciliation.

For it is the love of Christ which compels us to this peculiar way of life. We believe, proclaiming a message of hope, holiness, and wholeness rooted in the divine mystery of Trinitarian love, that Christ died for all and desires that all of creation reflect the image of God. Therefore, I urge you do not receive the grace and peace of God in vain. Be reconciled to one another. Be agents of peace in your neighborhood. Allow the words of your mouth to be seasoned with the grace of God. Edify the people of God for faithful participation in God’s mission in every corner of creation.

Be agents of peace in your neighborhood.

Throw open the doors of the church. Do not hoard the grace and peace of God, but allow the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ to flow into the streets and avenues of the towns and cities in which you live. Defend the marginalized. Provide shelter for those without a home. Offer concrete resources to the addict. Bandage the wounded and care for the neglected. Distribute food to the hungry. This is who God has called us to be as people of the Nazarene. This is to be our way of life.

Finally, be patient with one another. Encourage the tired and worn-out. Do not snuff out the work of the Spirit. Abstain from evil. Do not remain idle, but do the work God has given you to do. Keep alert. Remain steadfast in your faith and the hope of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Trust God to build the Church of Jesus the Nazarene for the praise of his glory.

Now may the God of peace sanctify you entirely giving you peace at all times in all ways. Greet all the brothers and sisters with the peace of reconciliation. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

JEFFREY T. BARKER is senior pastor of Bethel Church of the Nazarene and Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Eastern Nazarene College

 

* A copy of the complete hymn can be found online at the following site: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/c/acanitbe.htm