x175......The Expectation of "Ministry"
What we accept as the current form of what "ministry" is--is that a person is somehow better that the rest of us. A "minister" must be someone who is somehow "more healed"--closer to God --than the rest of us. They are better dressed--more "professional"--they have the right "look" and sound of what we define ministry as (of course this definition changes from year to year by the current trends and in fact conforms to what is "popular")
This has 2 effects--
1. It gives the impression to the people who are "under" the ministry leaders--the idea that they are not "perfect enough" to be in "ministry". We sit there week after week--listening to wonderful messages from the leader--but we never can somehow be 'set free" enough to serve God fully.
In fact, I have found myself sitting in church listening to a message--or watching a wonderful minister of the word of God preach a great teaching--and trying to find out what is wrong with me--that is to say that the only way I will benefit from the message is is I find some sin that I need to be set free of. this breeds the concept of Christians who are permenantly sinful--are permanently in need of constant healing --who continually go back to their sin over and over--this is the way we are lead to feel when we get healed but are not released to ministry--
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? (Romans 10:13-15)
"The act of "sending" (apostello) is the act of releasing ministry in the earth--this is what Jesus did--- if anyone is interested. This was Jesus' chief concern in His pastoral ministry--the way He dealt with the people in His "church"--He was very interested in releasing ministry--in creating apostles--he made many many people into instant apostles beside the 12 that are well known. This verse in Romans is the command for leaders of the church for pastors and leaders to release ministry--this is the only way that the world will be saved--someone has to "send" someone--someone has to release someone else to do the work of God in the earth--the work of an apostle.
But what we call successful leadership is building a big church. We are looking for the outside appearance of success--(the type the world exalts)--a large number of followers of a person. Jesus was totally interested in building God's kingdom in the earth--and he knew the way to do this was to release apostles to do the work. And the early church was functioning in this way throughout the Bible.
So we actually sit in church and are in effect a "self-help" organization--in a certain way much like a New Age belief! We are thinking we must "perfect ourselves"--before we can become "worthy" to become "official" ministers of the word of God. In fact we can become much like the catholic folks who we so roundly criticize---
When I was young I was catholic and I had to go to the confessional every week and confess my sins to the priest. I remember having to lie in order to make up sins so that i would have something to say to the priest. the assumption of the process is that we are wicked sinners and are in need of cleansing from a person every week.--but isn't this the same concept that happens in our churches also? I sit in the crowd and receive a teaching on a sin that I am really not into--but I am made to feel as if I neeed to have sin in order to benefit from the pastors' teaching. Certainly any teaching is for a few people in a crowd--but we can easily sit their and feel that we need sin in order to benefit from the teaching!!--In order to get the benefit of the alter call!!---And in the same respect we might feel as if we are continually unworthy of the calling of God in our lives--that we are continually unworthy of doing ministry.
2. On the other hand--those people who are interested in "getting into ministry" have to live up to the idea that they must be perfect--that they must have no problems in order to function as ministers. this leads to them hiding their faults--to pretending that hey are perfect--to covering up their shortcomings--into having to put on the "act" of perfection for the congregation to see.
Is this Biblical? Were the apostles that Jesus released into ministry "perfect people? Absolutely not!
the leaders of the church at Jerusalem--the apostle peter--had a testimony that is told many times in he Bible---Peter's testimony was that he denied Jesus 3 times in one night! God chose this man who openly denied Jesus as the leader of the apostles! Now we know that this incredible sin certainly did not hold Peter back from doing the will of God in his life. he certainly fullfiled his calling as an apostle--yet he--and in fact all the 12 apostles--had the testimony--written over and over again in the letters that were sent--(the letters that were later to become the New testament)--of him denying Jesus 3 times openly. How many of us would admit to such a sin? How many of us would "feel comfortable" is we know that our spiritual leader openly admitted to doing such a wicked thing? Isn't this the one thing that all Christian we cover up in their lives? Certainly someone who wanted to be in "ministry" would never openly say that they had denied Jesus---after they had met Him and were serving Him!! this is where are salvation lies after all--proclaiming Jesus before men is the one thing that we all certainly should not do--it is the basis of salvation--yet here is this leader of the church who openly has this as hi s testimony!--And it certainly did not stop him from serving God and doing the work that God called him to do.
What about the other great leader of the new testament--Paul? did not Paul call himself "chief among sinners? --after he was actively serving God? One of the central thing we should realize from reading about the people in the bible is that they all sinned and fell short--and when they openly admitted this they were successful in God--and we certainly must understand that their shortcomings never stopped them from actively serving God in their calling., Paul did not say he was going to stop serving God until he got healed of his problem.
Read about this in paul's own words--
1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. (2 Corinthians 12:1-11, KJV).
Paul is telling here about how God actually brought him to heaven--an incredible blessing.but he also shows that God gave him a thorn in his flesh--in order to prevent him from getting a swelled head!
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
This is the secret of the biblical apostles. they understood clearly that in their weakness God was strong. that in order for them to receive the fullness of the anointing--they need to "glory in their infirmities". This is why they so openly admitted their problems to the church when they wrote to them in their letters. This is why the testimony of Peter was so openly taught and preached in all the Gospels.
This same concept of weakness in leaders is apparent in the Old testament also--David had his Bathsheba--etc. Great leaders understood that they must lessen so that God must increase inside of them. And it is certain that sin and infirmities are not any obstruction in the Bible from all people serving God--and that leaders in the Bible did not deny these infirmities to the people they were leading. But tradition--and in fact the ways of the world which have invaded the church over they years have given us expectations that are not biblical . Expectations that we put on our leaders--and expectations that we are held under by the tradition of church leadership.