In my last post I referenced the connections between Jesus’ baptism by John, along with His simultaneous baptism by the Spirit, and the result of the Spirit on Jesus being seen in the prophetic message of Isaiah 11:1-2, the gifts Jesus walked in. I made a further connection that these gifts, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers were also Jesus gifts to His church (after His ascension – Ephesians 4:7-11).
Now we can look at what this means for us. My goal is not to focus on these five gifts. Rather, I want to look more broadly at how just as Jesus’ ministry flowed from the Spirit resting on Him, so He desires to reveal Himself through us as the Spirit rest on us. Jesus revealed the Father following His baptism, we are called to reveal Jesus. My experience in decades of walking with Jesus is that for myself and others it is both a calling and a challenge to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Yet that is our calling and the source of our effectiveness.
That is what Paul exemplified, thus many of us would like to be like Paul. I know I would and that isn’t a bad aspiration. That requires heeding what Paul actually wrote.
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV)
17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:17 (NKJV)
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. Philippians 3:17 (NKJV)
In the verses above the key point isn’t the need to be like Paul, it is to be like Jesus! Paul encouraged us to imitate him to the degree that he reflected Jesus. Paul is pointing us to Jesus.
We can go a little further. If we view the gospel through the lens of the letters to the churches, we are looking through the wrong end of the telescope and our view will be distorted. The four gospels were not written just so we could have some background on how the church was started. They are foundational to all that we do and we are to build our lives on that foundation. They reveal Jesus and His demonstration of ministering out of communion with the Father. Look at what Paul wrote in Colossians.
1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1–3 (NKJV) In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Whatever we need to fulfill our calling and purpose is found in Jesus. The significance of Jesus baptism for us is that when we are converted Jesus comes to live in us by the Spirit. Our calling is to imitate Paul; learn to commune with Jesus and interact with those around us out of that relationship. Gifts, callings and fruit all flow from that relationship, just as everything Jesus did flowed from His relationship with the Father (John 5:19-20, 30). Whatever we need to interact well with others is found in Jesus.