When Jesus came to the earth he was the complete package. He provided the perfect example of what a Christian should be like. He had all of the attributes of God the Father for He was truly in the image of God, and as God is love, so too Jesus is love also.
But we are not. We humans are weak. Born under sin and not able to live lives of holiness except by the grace of God and His work of transformation going on in us, as I have written about in the last couple of posts.
So in order for us to reach the place of perfection and to be in the image of Jesus Christ, we need help. We need the ministries of the church that God has given to the church as gifts to be employed for the education, learning and maturing of the church so that we can arrive at the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ as we are told in The book of Ephesians.
Not All The Same
Now when Jesus came He also had all of the ministries as well. He was an evangelist, teacher, healer, helper, apostle, prophet and everything else all rolled into one.
In Him we see the fullness of God's work and how the many ministries ought to operate. In Jesus Christ we see how when all of these things are working together, perfection is attained and achieved.
But no one man has had all of these ministries and gifts as Jesus Christ did. And God has ordained it that way for when He gave gifts to the church, He gave them to the CHIRCH, not an individual.
God has established the church rather than individuals as the mechanism by which growth into maturity may occur and that is why the gifts He gave were given to the church as we see in Ephesians
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
It is important that we understand there are many parts for it takes away some of the pressure that some churches put on people. It takes away the pressures of expectations that are unrealistic.
Many Parts, One Body
We see both in the Romans 12 scripture and the scriptures from Ephesians 4 quoted above that there are numerous ministries given to the church.
In the Ephesians verses we see the purposes of these ministries is for the equipment of the members of the church so that they may all grow to maturity in Jesus Christ to the full stature of the image of Jesus Christ.
The purpose of the ministries is for growth and support. The ministries support the whole church for each ministry is necessary in the maturing of the church.
Now I mentioned how this takes off pressures and expectations built up in some churches.
For example, there are some churches who focus heavily upon growth in numbers. From the moment a person comes into the church they are sent out or expected to go out and “evangelist the world”. They have these people out knocking on doors, preaching on street corners, handing out literature and bible verses and so on before they are really capable of doing it.
Some people simply are not cut out for this type of work or ministry. It is wrong to force someone to do something they are not comfortable doing. It is even more wrong to do so if they are not prepared.
A person who is only a recent convert does not have the knowledge of the scripture or the truth to adequately mount a defense against someone opposing the gospel. They do not yet have the knowledge and so may either feel a failure themselves or inadequately represent the Lord and the gospel of Jesus Christ, both of which are sad situations.
Jesus did not send out the twelve or the seventy in another place until He had prepared them adequately to do the work. Furthermore He gave them authority over diseases and unclean spirits so they could prove the truth of the gospel they were teaching.
It is not right to expect people to do something for which they are not prepared. We would not send a person to do a dangerous job without the right training and equipment, so why should we expect an untrained Christians to do the work of God?
It also releives the pressure on individuals in the church as well. If only one person had all of the gifts of ministry in the church, then everyone would go to them with every problem they had. Everyone would expect them to have the answer to all problems. And there are many churches where we see this happening to pastors of the church and they get burnt out very quickly.
People problems are weighty and difficult to deal with. That is why the Lord established an elder ship to rule over the church here while He remained the one head of the church, so that no single person was the focal point of the church. No one should look to any man. Salvation is from God through Jesus Christ. he is the head of the church, not any man.
There are also many people who beat themsleves up because they really, REALLY want a friend, partner, family member or whatever to come to the Lord. And they speak with those people but seem to get nowhere.
Knowing that not everyone is an evangelist and not everyone has the gift from God to bring people to the Lord releases the pressure to do so.
We do not know what it is that may turn one person around to seek God, even if we have known that person well for many, many years. And besides, the call of God comes from Him, not us. And Jesus stated quite clearly,
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:26)
It is evident that where the Lord is working, He will have His servant working with Him. And when it comes to your wife, husband, parents, children, family, friends or whomever, that servant may not be you. So if your words go unheeded, don't beat yourself up. The time may not be right for that person and the Lord may be engineering the circumstance for the right servant to come along and say or do the one thing that will cause your family member or friend to stop and think.
Finally as we are shown in this section of Romans 12, when you do offer a service in the service of the Lord, do it well. Be cheerful, happy, willing, capable and joyful as you do service for the people of the Lord for in so doing you are serving Jesus Christ Himself. As it says,
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:4-8)
God has given His gifts to the church so that they can help and support each other in the church. We all have different roles to play and those who may seem less important are just as important as those who appear to be the “stars of the show”. For example, there is no point preaching and teaching unless there is someone to hear the word. The congregation is just as important as the preacher and all parts of the body have been established to help and support the rest.
(Image sourced from freeimages.com under “anatomy” (supplier name not given))
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