Editor’s Note: This was my original First Word for the May-June BA, written in February before the COVD-19 outbreak. It was replaced with a more timely editorial just prior to publication. Written with “The Ministry” theme in mind, the original is offered to you here as an online exclusive.
We have another beautiful cover for this issue, courtesy of Wendy Gedack. When I saw this waterfall, I knew it was the right photograph to illustrate this BA. What better image to capture the essence of the ministry that God has given His church! Look at it again. What does it evoke in your mind? Swift, fresh, living, pure, powerful. How does that compare to the ministry of your life and church?
Here in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, where I live and minister, waterfalls are abundant. All of them are beautiful, but no two of them are alike. The local terrain shapes each one uniquely. Height, volume, and form may vary, but all tumble, flowing crystal clear from their higher source.
We are like this — all “ministers of God” (2 Corinthians 6:4) in different contexts, but workers together in the singular ministry of reconciliation (5:18; 6:1). Each one of us plays an important part in watering and nourishing new creation life in a barren land. I am reminded of the prophet Amos’ waterfall image of the ministry: “But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” (5:24).
This is the ministry of reconciliation vividly foreseen. Before Paul called it that, he named it the “ministry of the Spirit” and “ministry of righteousness,” and us “ministers of the new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:6-9). These are one and the same ministry in Christ and through Christ: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
But why does Paul focus so much on the ministry with the Corinthians? Have they lost sight of it? A close read reveals that Paul is not only defending his ministry in Corinth but also renewing theirs. He urges integrity, lest pure waters turn putrid: “We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. . . . For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? . . . what communion has light with darkness?” (6:3, 14).
With Corinth, we are called to minister “by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (vv. 6, 7). It sounds like a waterfall. It sounds like righteousness.
— Jason Overman