11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)
Listen to me carefully and echo my words: Christianity is Love; getting to know God is a most positive experience; concern for others—the apostolate—is not an extra luxury, the task of a few. Now that you know this, fill yourself with joy, because your life has acquired a completely different meaning; and act in consequence. (1)
Within Christianity, there are two opinions about ministry. The division occurs in nearly every denomination, it doesn’t matter whether you are Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, non-denom, Anglican/
There are those that believe ministry is the domain of the those who are trained professionals, that are set apart to be ministers. This isn’t a theological issue, really, but one where we take the concepts of the world and interpose them on church. It also reduces ministry to what goes on between 9-11:58 on Sundays, and maybe 6-8:30 on Wednesday evenings. Ministry is more than the message delivered, more than the music sung.
The other view is that which is seen above in the quote from Ephesians, and the quote from Josemaria Escriva. This puts ministry into all our hands, into every moment of our lives. It is as much the parent, lovingly disciplining a child, a co-worker, taking time to pray with a stressed out friend, a person sacrificing their place in line at the market, so a hurried mom can get her milk and get her children home, a couple, donating their furniture to the Salvation Army, rather than selling it at a yard sale, priori to moving; as it is the pastor proclaiming Christ crucified.
I used Ephesians this morning for a reason, some say it is translated badly – that somehow it is the clergy ministry to train people, and that ministry itself is what builds up the body of Christ. But look at the part I italicised – it says the exact opposite – that each of us has our own special work, each has our own vocation of service – and it is when we are all “at work” serving each other and our neighbors, it is then the church works. It is then, Josemaria would say – that our life has a completely different meaning – and a real consequence.
Josemaria Escriva makes another point, that we need to consider. Simply put, such ministry is begins, it is generated and empowered by the love of God. It’s not about be commanded to do this – the compelling nature of service comes from God commissioning us, ordaining us, sanctifying us (if you don’t know these church words – simply put – God sets the appointments we have to serve others) to serve. It is a matter of love, not obedience.
So you are a minister. You are the beloved of God whom He has set into the world with a special purpose. To love people by serving them. When you do, the joy will be immense ( as may be the pain)
What are you waiting for – turn off your monitor and go love people as Christ did… for that is the way we serve….
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 997-1000). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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