For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thess 2:19,20
Oliver Sacks began his book, The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, with the fascinating story of a person suffering from agnosia. This person, Dr P was a distinguished musician and teacher in Berlin.
His students first recognized his strange behavior when he was unable to identify the people he knew. In addition, he often mistook objects like parking meters and fire hydrants for young children. At the close of one session with Dr Sacks, Dr P started looking for his hat. Finally he reached towards his wife’s head and tried to put it on his own!
Agnosia is the psychiatric term for the loss of ability to recognize familiar objects. His illness prevented him from recognizing persons, for he saw faces only in bits and pieces. Amazingly, he got along well despite his disability and was able to work till the end of his life.
Amusing as this account is, sometimes the church can also suffer from spiritual agnosia. We confuse people with objects and objects with people. Sometimes we forget what Jesus has told us to do: amnesia. Sometimes we get confuse: agnosia.
It is refreshing to see how Paul saw ministry. Paul was intensely Gospel-centered and people-focused. Ministry is about people. Ministry is about people and their faith in the Gospel.
What is our hope, joy and crown? These 3 terms – hope, joy and crown – describes our motivations, aims and purpose of our lives.
Hope is what we long for. In your more quiet moments, what do you really wish for?
Joy. It has been said that in any family, company or community, you can recognise their shared values by what they celebrate or what brings joy to everyone. What will truly bring joy to you?
Crown is about reward, the very thing in which we build our lives around. What will your crowning glory be?
For St Paul, he hoped for the spiritual best of those he was serving. Their spiritual success will be his joy. They will be his crowning glory.
This is ministry. As I shared last Sunday, ministry is about giving over, a life poured out for others. It is about everyone else sans myself.
May we not suffer from spiritual agnosia and take people as objects for our own advancement or use. May we - like Jesus and St Paul – always remember that we are called to be fishers of men.
When that Day arrive, may others objectify our hope. May we find true joy in seeing others. May others be our glory.
Indeed, the people we keep in our hearts will one day be worn on our heads.