The Truth about the Ministry.
Devotional Thought for our seemingly broken days…
16 “I am not able to,” Joseph answered Pharaoh. “It is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
37 The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit o in him?” Genesis 41:16, 37 HCSB
33. Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful34. For in the liturgy God speaks to His people and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song and prayer.
Moreover, the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides over the assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people and of all present. And the visible signs used by the liturgy to signify invisible divine things have been chosen by Christ or the Church. Thus not only when things are read “which were written for our instruction” (Rom. 15:4), but also when the Church prays or sings or acts, the faith of those taking part is nourished and their minds are raised to God, so that they may offer Him their rational service and more abundantly receive His grace.
It is taught among us that nobody should publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a regular call.
One of the most challenging things to teach on in the church is the concept of the ministry. Specifically, who can and should preach and administrate/officiate the sacraments.
Some would open up the doors to anyone to do so, and God can and does choose a group of diverse people to serve Him, that doesn’t mean all can/should preach, or administer the sacraments. To follow this path leads to chaos, and everyone teaching what is right in their own eyes. Even worse, when someone is speaking on God’s behalf, and by His order, there is doubt about it. When we make the ministry about our “rights” to be the pastor, we aren’t listening to God.
Others would follow the opposite extreme, reducing every part of ministry to those who are called and ordained as pastors. This would include things like evangelism and even to teach Bible studies. This leaves the church weak, undernourished, and unable to meet the needs of a broken world. The pastor surely is the primary messenger, when he is speaking God’s word” but that doesn’t make him the only servant of the church!
I wish it would be as simple for us as it was for Pharoah, that every person could see clearly whom God chose to shepherd them. That every shepherd could do their job perfectly, without fault or hesitation. Such a thing would be an incredible blessing.
Pastors and priests are human though, and we do screw up, sometimes royally. We stand in God’s presence as we lead His people, and there are times we do act as Jesus, speaking for Him, feeding His people, drawing them to Him at the cross. It is in those times where it is not our perfection that matters but His. We are at our best when we realize as Joseph did, that we aren’t able to, but God can.
You see the ministry is never about the man, it is about the Man whom he stands in for, the Man who works through our voices and our hands. The ministry is about those who receive God’s word and promises, whom the sacraments, these sacred moments are there to bless. And when we make it about the man standing there, preaching, standing there, putting Christ’s body into the hands of hungry souls, that we have sinned. We then have taken our eyes off of the Lord, off of the promises, and orbit outside the relationship in order to critique and judge it.
This is contrary to the gift Jesus gives the church, as a simple gift of men He calls the church to recognize His call upon. Men who are qualified to serve based on God’s teaching. Men whom He will speak through, and limit their words to drawing people into God’s glory. men who see the ministry as simply God and the church, and find great joy in seeing them together.
Focus there, on people hearing God say, “you are my people” and the people saying “You are our God!”
Catholic Church. “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.