In Colossians 2:2, Paul says, "I pray that your heart will be knit together in love, attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself." This word 'mystery' comes a few times in the New Testament and refers to a truth that can be known only if God reveals it to you through His Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:8-10 states , "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him, but God has revealed them to us through His Holy Spirit."
There are only two mysteries that are called 'great' mysteries in the Bible. One is the mystery that God came in human flesh (1 Timothy 3:16): "Great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh. "That is called the secret of godliness or the secret of how to live a godly life. The second mystery is about the church as the Body and Bride of Christ. Ephesians 5:32 says, "The two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I am speaking about Christ and the church." The church being one flesh with Christ is the second great mystery.
We need revelation from God if we are to understand that Jesus came in the flesh, was tempted like us, and overcame all temptation, and how we now can follow in His footsteps, overcome sin and thus build the Body of Christ along with others who are walking the same way. Building the church as Christ's Body is the greatest ministry anyone can ever do on the face of the earth. There is absolutely nothing greater than that. Paul spent all his life labouring to build this church.
The greatest servants of God are those who work with Christ to build His church. It is important to live a godly life; but that is not enough. We must also do what Paul did- build the church. Paul did not spend his life doing social work. Helping the poor in earthly matters is good, but that will not fulfil God's eternal purpose. If you make people's lives more comfortable by giving them education and medical treatment alone, you would only have smoothened their pathway to hell! Initially, they were going to hell along a rough path, but you made that path a little smoother. Paul realised that the most important of all ministries was to lead people to Christ, lead them to a godly life and then build them together into a Body. That is the greatest ministry any of us can ever do.
We respect all who do social work and help the poor in Christ's Name. May God bless all who are called to do that. But Paul never got involved with that - even though there were so many social needs in the world in his time. Those who help the poor may get earthly honours like the Nobel peace prize. But Jesus and Paul would never have won the Nobel peace prize. Nobody gives Nobel prizes to those who build the church.
In Colossians 4:17, we read a wonderful exhortation that Paul gives Archippus: "Take heed to the ministry which you received from the Lord, that you fulfil that." Don't bother about the ministries that God has given to others. God has given you a particular ministry. Concentrate on that and fulfil it, at any cost. Put your name there in place of Archippus and take that as a word to your own heart. When I was a young man and I read this verse, I put my name there in place of Archippus and I heard the Lord saying to me, "Take heed to the ministry that I have given you, and fulfil it. Don't get sidetracked and do something else." I want to say to all of you, Don't get sidetracked into social work, if God has called you to build a church. Don't sit behind a desk as a Director in some Christian organisation, if God has called you to a prophetic ministry. Take heed to the ministry God has given you and fulfil it.