Truth Matters: Ministry in the MarketplacePublished 7:57am Wednesday, May 26, 2010
By Ken Askew
“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.” ESV Acts 17:16-17
What does it mean to share your faith? Christians often use the term “witnessing,” but what does that term really mean? Unfortunately, the term often carries a negative or stressful connotation. I’ve got a friend who prefers to describe witnessing, or faith-sharing, as “the ministry of reconciliation in the marketplace of life.” I like that phrase. It’s more descriptive than “witnessing” and the underlying assumptions are more precise. Let’s think about the underlying assumptions briefly.
The first part, “ministry of reconciliation,” suggests in its context that there is a need for two people to be reconciled; namely man to God. Likewise, some prior event must have occurred in order to separate them; in this case, sin. And finally, these efforts at reconciling men to God can be thought of as a ministry. And when you think about it, isn’t that the end goal of Christian witnessing; sharing your faith in a way that reconciles others with God?
The second part, “in the marketplace of life” hints at when and where we should share our faith. Should we Christians dare only to talk about our faith at church or among church folks? No. Is our witness confined to inviting and bringing people to the building where we meet for worship? No. In reality, the scope of our sharing should and does extend into the very corners of our everyday lives; our jobs, our hobbies, our families—you name it.
Now, is this phrase (ministry of reconciliation in the marketplace of life) biblical? Yes. The thought originates in 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 and I encourage you to go there for further study. And I know of no better biblical example of this than the life of the Apostle Paul. Yes, you say, but Paul was an Apostle and I am not Paul. While that is true, you and I are not Paul, we do have some important things in common.
As Christians, formerly separated from God by sin, we now stand with Paul reconciled to God through faith in Christ. And like Paul, we run into folks everyday in every corner of our lives who have not yet found the joy of our faith. Truthfully, if you call yourself a Christian, are you not troubled, like Paul, by the things you see in the world? Are you not troubled by the idols (entertainment, sports, houses, cars, jobs, etc.) we so often worship today instead of Christ? If you can look around you and not be troubled, then let me suggest that you should examine the genuineness of your faith!
Finally then, let me encourage you to either begin or to continue to share your faith in the marketplace, just like Paul, “to those who happen to be there.”
Ken worships at Tharptown Baptist Church in Russellville where he leads an adult Bible study. Comments are welcome and may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.