Apostolic Calling

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A young minister was being interviewed by a church board for the position of pastor. One old hard-working Irishman, who was on the board, looked at the young man sternly and asked, “Young man, did God send you here?” He replied, “Well, I don’t know if God sent me here. I am here trying to find the will of God and find out if you would like me for your next pastor.” The board member replied, “Young man, did God send you here?” The young minister was somewhat at a loss for words and came back again, “Well, I just stopped by to talk with the board . . .” The board member interrupted again and said, “Young man, did God send you here?” Finally he skewed up his courage and said, “Well, I guess God didn’t send me here. I just stopped by to see about whether we could get together.” The old board member leaned back in his seat and said, “That’s good. The last four said that God had sent them and we had nothing but trouble with all four of them!”

Do you ever feel that the minister steps up to the pulpit on Sunday morning not as well prepared as he/she should be? I am reminded of the pastor who thought, when he had difficulty preparing a particular sermon, ‘Perhaps the Holy Spirit will tell me what to say on Sunday morning.’ This thought returned to him several times during the week, and when at last he stood silently before his congregation, he turned to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and a celestial voice said to him, ‘Tell the people you are unprepared!”‘

APOSTLE is Greek for apostolos, meaning a “delegate.” One sent with a special message or commission. The Church called those it sent on special errands apostles. Those who carried the news of the gospel were called apostles. The Jews, it is said, called the collector of the half shekel, which every Israelite paid annually to the Temple, an apostle. Those who carried about encyclical letters from their rulers were also called apostles. Paul used the word in this sense when he declared himself “an apostle, not sent from men, nor through the agency of man” (Gal 1:1), plainly indicating that his commission was directly from Christ.

The official name of the twelve disciples chosen by our Lord to be with Him during His ministry and to whom He entrusted the organization of His church were called apostles. Shortly after their ordination “He gave to them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness”; “and sent them out in pairs” to preach. As regards the apostolic office, it seems to have been preeminently that of founding the churches and upholding them by supernatural power specially bestowed for that purpose.

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:1-4)

It is at this point that we discover the difference between an Elder and a Diaconate. The Elder becomes the spiritual leader of the Church. …will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. It was the Elder who later became the bishop setting up a hierarchy in the Church. The Diaconate became an administrator of ministry. The widows who were being overlooked, needed to wait on tables.

Clearly the early Church had an informal ministry, a ministry of laity. Those chosen for leadership were ordinary folk. Qualifications were not based on training or their ability to do the job. Qualifications were based on character – the Church trusted the Christian character of the one being called.

Certainly, the Church has developed a professional clergy to do the preaching, the funerals, the weddings, and the administration of the church. Paul writes, How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Rom 10:14-15)

The clergy cannot do it by themselves, we need the help of the laity. In the Old Testament we often find the Israelites “murmuring.” What a wonderful expression. In the church we often find people murmuring, too. The only thing some people are willing to give is advice. In 1884 in Princess Ida, W. S. Gilbert wrote a verse that must surely be the feeling of some Christians:
Oh don’t the days seem lank and long, When all goes right and nothing goes wrong and isn’t life extremely flat with nothing whatever to grumble at.
Leadership is accepting people where they are, then taking them upward?

If you have knowledge of Jesus, let others light their candles at it. “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.

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