Yesterday I read a few statements in Eckhard J. Schnabel’s chapter “Paul the Missionary” in R.L. Plummer and J.M. Terry’s Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours that I found to be worth sharing:
“As a servant [Paul] assists Jesus in what Jesus continues to do in the world (see Acts 1:1).” (p. 31)
“Paul obeys Jesus as a slave (Greek: doulos; Latin: servus) obeys his master. This does not mean that Paul is a reluctant missionary, anticipating the day when he can shed the shackles of this bondage. On the contrary, since his status as a slave is determined by the status of his master, he regards it as a privilege to speak for Jesus Christ, the exalted Lord: he expects that ‘by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted as always in my body’ (Phil 1:20 NRSV).” (p. 33)
“Since other missionaries, preachers, and teachers are also servants, there is no place for arrogance and striving for super prestige: missionary work is not about personal honor and status, but about getting work done at the behest of God.” (p. 34)
Paul’s self-image as a servant is challenging to me as a Christian. That first quote grabbed my attention: Jesus is the one working in the world through his Spirit. Paul as a servant can be seen following behind his master assisting his master’s work. If Paul envisioned himself this way, and if we can do the same, it may go a long way toward our interactions and support of one another. If we are all servants together, none masters, then we share in Christ’s work, not our own.