4:5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
There are two kinds of preachers representing two kinds of religion. One preacher uses the Story for self-promotion, and the people as his cash cow. The religion they preach comes bottled in different flavours but the end result is the same, you have to give to get. It may take the form of the prosperity Gospel where God is sugar daddy in the sky who has all the wealth you could ever imagine but you have to believe enough and give enough to ever see that wealth. It may take the form of exploiting your guilt and shame and you have to do and give to crawl out of your gutter. Whatever form it takes you are exploited while the preacher and/or the entire system gets fat off you.
Then there is the true preacher. He or she will get poor, they will get harassed, they will take abuse, all to expose the likes of bad religion by simply telling the Story in it's matchless beauty. The message is never about the preacher or a system or about how bad you are or how rich you could be if. The message is about a Man from Nazareth with a love that will not let you go. The message builds up, it does not tear down. The message gives, it does not take. Those who see Him become willing servants to help others see. They are not slaves. Paul didn't travel Asia, experience shipwrecks, rot in prison or get beaten because he had to. He wasn't trying to earn anything from a tight-fisted deity. Paul had been a religious slave, blinded by the system and his own stubborn ego. Now he was free and his life was dedicated to setting others free. That's why he boldly declared "we are your bondservants."
He ends this section of the letter by making an illustration. God sent light into the darkness at creation. Dark is the absence of light and those in darkness don't know what they are in because they can't see and once you can't see for long enough it becomes your comfortable norm. I used to work at a summer camp for the blind for several years in a row and became good friends with a few of them. My friend Rick who is gone now told me on a walk that he would never want his sight restored. I was taken aback. I asked him why. He said blindness was the only world he knew and he feared sight would be too overwhelming. His words not mine.
There are many people trapped in lives that are dysfunctional and even destructive but it's all they have known and they are comfortable there. God loves us too much to leave us comfortable in such places so just as He sent light into the darkness at creation, He sends the Light of the Truth of His Son into every heart. John says in chapter 1 of his account of the life of Jesus that He is the Light that lights every person who comes into the world. Martin Luther went searching for answers. Entrenched in a system of abusive darkness he knew there was more. How did he know? Because God sent light into his darkness. There will be people in heaven who never knew the name of Jesus on this earth. They will meet Him there and hear the Story for the first time. Why will they be there? Because they followed the light that God shone in their hearts. They embraced the truth that it's better to serve than to demand service. They discovered and followed the light that it's better to give than to take. Simply put the light of love shone into their lives and they followed that light.
Two kingdoms. Two paths. Two kinds of preachers with two very different messages. We choose.