Monday, December 8, 2008

Life is Ministry

Originally posted on the Swainlife Blog Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Our daughter Abigail just turned two recently and is starting to learn how to use prepositions. However, sometimes she gets them wrong and it entirely changes what she means. For example, at night when it is time to read a bed time story sometimes she says "I want you lay down for me" but what she really means is "I want you to lay down with me (and read me a bedtime story)." Sometimes she will mosey into the kitchen and look up with wide, serious, innocent eyes and say "Can I want a cookie?" Meanwhile I know that she really does want a cookie and is just asking if she can have one.

From the beginning of time God has sought to have a relationship with humanity. God's desire has been for a close relationship, but it seems that humanity always wants to keep him at arms length (if not further). When God was setting up the brand new nation of Israel he declared to them that they would be a Kingdom of Priests as you can read in the following passage.

3 'Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you [1] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' Exodus 19
It is amazing that just nine chapters later that God calls out Aaron and Levites to come and serve as priests. What happened? They were going to be a kingdom of priests but they ended up becoming a kingdom with priests instead. Did God (like Abigail) accidentally mess up his prepositions? Did one of the Hebrew scribes hear him incorrectly? No, God wanted people to come directly to him, but they were not ready to do that.

The people preferred to have a mediator, someone who went to God on their behalf. They wanted someone else to have the job of spiritual work so that they could go on living their lives as they pleased. However, God did not forget what he said about building a kingdom of priests. In the New Testament, Peter reminds us again of God's desire for his people to be a kingdom of priests - a kingdom of people that have direct access to God and come directly before him.
"9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us" 1 Peter 2
Often it is easy to think that the work of ministry belongs only to those who work in ministry full time. However, this is contrary to everything that God has worked for throughout history. Yes, we need pastors, teachers, preachers, missionaries, etc. God definitely calls some people to specific tasks, but to what end? Paul says,
"11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:11
Why does Paul say that there are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? To prepare God's people for works of service, to prepare God's people to do ministry. If we call ourselves Christians, then we are privileged to be called to a life of ministry. Not just during times when it is convenient for us or only during times when the church does a special outreach event.

Our lives are to be lived with a sense of purpose and mission each day! We need to connect with Christ daily and walk with him and allow him to be part of every area of our life. Everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ needs to reflect the light of Christ and not just expect those with Christian job titles to do the work. And those of us with Christian job titles need to equip, empower and teach those in our care to do the work of Christ and not cause them to depend on us to do it all.

So, no matter where you are in the world and no matter what your vocation is, if you call yourself a follower of Christ I pray that you will live your life as ministry. I pray that you will seek and hear God's voice daily and do his work wherever you are. I pray that you will be encouraged and blessed as you see God's hands mold your life and as you follow him on your pilgrimage journey. Life is Ministry!