Imagine the apostle Paul was tonight’s guest on Larry King Live. Larry, who’s well-acquainted with Christians and the Christian faith, is focusing his questions on how Paul keeps telling people the gospel message of Jesus even when it’s costing him a great deal to keep at it. Let’s listen in on the conversation:
LK: It’s good to have you on the show tonight, Paul. Judging from what I’ve read about you in the book of Acts, you’ve had your share of opposition as you’ve been out there telling people the message of Jesus. All that hardship has to be somewhat discouraging, isn’t it?
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
LK: Maybe things would go better for you if you just softened up the gospel message. It is a rather hard sell—telling people they are on God’s bad side and can’t save themselves by their good works. Maybe you could just tone things down or “massage” the message a bit.
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
LK: So why do you think so many people don’t seem to really get the gospel message when you present it plainly?
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
LK: We’ll then, couldn’t you be accused of being elitist and “holier-than-thou” since you claim to have a corner on the truth? Are you implying you and other Christians are better than others because you’ve seen the light when they haven’t?
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
LK: If it’s true that God has turned on the lights for you by showing you the glory of Jesus, then surely you must be a pretty special person. Wouldn’t God want to protect you from hardships since you are on His team and doing His work?
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
LK: Sounds like a pretty dangerous assignment you’ve been given.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
LK: How can you be so calm and confident, especially since you are getting banged up and could get killed for telling people the message of Jesus?
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
LK: Paul, I’ve got to hand it to you. If I were in your shoes, facing all the troubles and hardships you do, I think I’d be ready to give up. So, one last question: How do you keep your emotional and spiritual equilibrium on days when your ministry seems to be taking a huge toll on you?
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(Paul’s answers taken from 2 Corinthians 4:1-18)