Our service for the Lord must have an element of sacrificial suffering, for our ministry to be effective to the broken-hearted.
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I love the classic hymns, especially this hymn about wounded worship.
O sacred head now wounded
With grief and shame weighed down
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns thine only crown
O sacred head what glory
What bliss ‘til now was thine
Yet despised and gory
I joy to call thee mine. *
Wounded worship. You know when it comes to ministry, whether it’s ministering to women, serving among teenagers, preaching from the pulpit, men’s Bible Study Fellowship, or even feeding the homeless, going into nursing homes, whatever – all ministry for the Master must have in it the sacrificial spirit of the Master. We know that from Colossians chapter 1 verse 24 where Paul says, “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions.” Just what does that mean?
Well, if the Apostle Paul is to help in the redemption of cities where he preaches, he must incarnate the death of Calvary; that is, he must suffer for the Gospel. If he is to be a minister of life, he must “die to himself daily.” The spirit of Calvary is to be reincarnate in Ephesus, in Athens, in Rome. It’s a sacrificial succession, and it’s a pattern that’s been carried throughout the ages. And so, now, in the 21st century, we are to “fill up in [our] flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions.” That’s the message for you and me. Our ministry, whatever it is and to whomever we give it, our ministry must have the sacrificial spirit of Jesus.
Someone once said, “The Gospel of a broken heart demands the ministry of bleeding hearts.” Let me say that again: The Gospel of a broken heart demands the ministry of bleeding hearts. You just can’t slap truth down on a counter as though it were a pint of blood and tell hurting people, “Here, swallow this truth. Believe it, ingest it, you’ll feel better!” No, rather, as Christians we must hook up our spiritual veins, as it were, to that hurting person and we must embody the Gospel. Give the love of Jesus with a compassionate touch. Feel the wounds of that hurting friend, pray and care and serve and bear the burden. The Gospel of a broken heart demands the ministry of bleeding hearts. And as soon as we cease to bleed, we cease to bless. When our sympathy loses its pangs, we can no longer serve with the compassion of Christ. We must bleed if we would be the ministers of the saving blood. We must, by our own suffering sympathies, “fill up in [our] flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions.”
Friend, when it comes to a ministry of broken hearts, hearts that bleed, could I be describing you and your service to Jesus? Here’s a bit of advice: the way to make nothing of your life is to be very careful of it. The way to make your life an eternal success is to do with it just what Jesus did with His. “Fill up his afflictions”.
Music: "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" by Paul Gerhardt, Public Domain
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