Thursday, January 23, 2014

Are you in your right mind? A Labour of Love

I got up at 5:30am this morning. On Tuesday it was earlier and I lectured on Revelation for 3 hours. Today I lectured on the Introduction to Galatians, 1 Thes and Romans and by the time I reached Romans 7, the bell rang at 11:20am. I would have spoken for 2 hours and 30 minutes with about 25 minutes' break in between. During tea-break, my time was taken up by speaking with students on the New Perspectives on Paul. I had no rest. I was so tired that I missed the public lecture by Professor Seow of Princeton Theological Seminary. But tomorrow we have a Faculty colloquium which Prof Seow will lead on Job's Leviathan. I read Seow's paper last week and I look forward to an interesting afternoon tomorrow. Paul mentioned in 1 Thes that he was proud of the Thessalonians for their work of faith, labour of love and steadfastness of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. I can't find a better phrase to describe my ministry for the Lord but this - "labour of love".
Why should one menggadai nyawa (risk one's life), get up in the wee hours of the morning, read Galatians during lunch, Romans on the bus and forgo simple pleasures for the work of ministry which in my case is teaching. I thought I would slow down in my final Semester but I found myself putting extra effort in many ways to make sure my lectures are delivered in the best possible way and students benefit from spending 3 hours with me in class. Ultimately, I am dealing with the best product in the world - the Word of God. The Word of God is living and is powerfully at work in the hearts of believers and I trust in the hearts of my students as they seek to be equipped in their ministry. I am not a salesman earning a buck. I joked with my students that who in the right mind managed 2 or 3 million dollars a year but paid one thousand dollars a month? Who in the right mind travelled into the interior of Borneo 70 times in 3 years and preached 300 sermons? Who in the right mind takes up 20 hours in sermon preparation, gets up at 5am on a Sunday to prepare, travel from one end of Singapore to the other end by bus and MRT, and preach the sermon? It is a labour of love. A labour for the Saviour who loved me and gave himself up for me (Gal 2). I told my students that the greatest challenge in ministry is living consistently and having a life that is worthy of imitation by those to whom we preach. Paul told his churches to be imitators of him. It is a tall order; whoever called by the Lord into this holy and glorious calling will do well to reflect on the nature of one's ministry whether it is indeed a work of faith and a labour of love.

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