For those of us in Christian circles, when you think of the word ministry, what comes to mind? If you had to describe what ministry was, or who was responsible for such activity, what would you say? According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, ministry is defined as “the office, duties, or work of a religious minister.” That sounds quite selective, does it not? Ministry is reserved for those who have been called by God, diligently pursued theological studies, and are therefore the ones truly responsible for doing the work of ministry. I can’t help but wonder, how many of hold this same definition of ministry?
One of my favorite passages is found in 1 Peter who wrote to believers who had been scattered by persecution, encouraging them to not lose hope, but to press on in faith to live as aliens and strangers in a foreign culture. He says,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (2:9-10, NASB)
Peter first affirmed who these scattered aliens were… they were a “chosen race”, a people called by God; and in being chosen, they were called into the “royal priesthood”; for they were together united as a “holy nation” and a people for “God’s own possession.” Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ, so also is this true of you! He has chosen you, and called you as part of the royal priesthood, such that you be united as the holy Church for God’s possession! And if this is true, so is God’s command for all believers to do as Peter instructed the scattered Christians – “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Church, this is our call, to proclaim, herald, declare, and decree the amazing work of God as He has brought us from darkness to light through His Son Jesus Christ. Ministry, understood in this context, is for His Church, all believers in Christ, to live their lives with gospel intentionality, such that in all we say and do, we proclaim the excellencies of Christ!
Allow me to leave you with a word of encouragement, especially those of you not in vocational ministry. Regardless of our vocation, our calling is the same as we have been called to God through Christ. And in living out this calling, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). Author Tim Chester and Steve Timmis suggest that living out a calling to Christ “is about living ordinary life with gospel intentionality. It is about doing what we already do with other people and with a commitment to speak of Jesus, whether to encourage believers or evangelize unbelievers. Suppose you go for a walk with a family from church and one of their unbelieving friends. Or suppose you share a meal with a colleague and a single person from church. Or suppose you help someone with his garden and get chatting with the neighbors. Is this family time or leisure time or church time or mission time? The answer, of course, is all of them.”[i]
Go, live with gospel intentionality, proclaiming the excellencies of Christ!
[i] Chester, Tim and Steve Timmis (2012). Everyday Church. Crossway, p. 143.