By the grace of God
May the grace and peace from our risen Christ be with you.
By the grace of God we had a great Annual Conference. We worshiped together and were challenged by our preachers and teachers. We celebrated what God has done among us and through us during the conference year. We listened to the General Conference re-port and prayed together and shared in fellowship. I am deeply grateful for those who planned, worked and prayed for our gathering and for the many volunteers from the Roanoke District.
This article will be the last one I write for the Advocate. For the past four years I shared my thoughts and prayers with you through this column. I deeply appreciate all of you who read this column and encouraged me. I also thank Rev. Tom Joyce who read and reviewed my article every month before I sent it to the office of Communications. Ms. Madeline Pillow, the editor of the Advocate, also deserves my appreciation for her patience.
I love what Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15: “But by the grace of God I am what
I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them- though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” This is one of my favorite lessons in the Bible.
Throughout my life and for almost 40 years of ministry, I have never forgotten this lesson. I agree 100 percent with what Paul said here, and this passage has also been my confession to God. Reflecting upon my journey to this moment, there are no better words than the words of this passage to describe what I am now.
By the grace of God, I was able to fight against poverty and illness in the early stages of my life. Although those years were full of suffering and pain, by the grace of God they became golden times in my spiritual journey. By the grace of God, my life turned the corner and changed direction at every critical moment, allowing me to arrive where I am today. Truly it is by the grace of God that I became what I am now.
Paul did not forget God’s grace poured out to him. He did not want God’s grace toward him to be in vain. He worked harder than any of the disciples. Paul had a clear motivation for his ministry. It was his deep gratitude for the grace of God. It was with a thankful heart that Paul sacrificed himself without any reservation. He courageously faced challenges and hardships in his ministry.
If there is one thing that helped me continue my ministry, it is gratitude for God’s grace poured out to me. Whenever I faced a difficult situation in my ministry, I always tried to remember what God has done in my life. It was gratitude for God’s grace that sustained my ministry and gave me strength to wrestle with challenges. Because of God’s grace, I tried to work hard.
But there is another reason I love this lesson. Paul continues by saying, “It was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Paul’s mission was very fruitful. He made a decisive contribution to spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Paul left a great legacy in the history of the Christian church. But he did not say, “I did it.” He never attempted to steal the glory of God. He never glorified himself. He always gave glory and thanks to God.
I want to follow in Paul’s footsteps. If there is any accomplishment in my ministry, it is not about me. Rather, it is because of God’s grace. I know I have many shortcomings. I know nothing great comes from me. Only God’s grace and the help of many friends and colleagues made it possible for me to carry out my ministry as bishop. All honor and glory should go to the Lord. It was truly God’s grace that lead me to this point.
Therefore, in closing my last article for the Advocate, I can only say that it was by the grace of God I was able to become what I am and was able to do what I did. Thanks be to God for God’s amazing grace!!! And thanks be to all of you for your love and support!!!
Young Jin Cho