Differing Ministries; November 23, 2020

Galatians 2:8 For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles

There is actually a very important principle in this verse. People can be equally called and commissioned by God and yet have very different ministries. It’s not at all unusual for people to miss this principle entirely, and it can make for a lot of friction in the Church. As Paul laid out so clearly in 1 Corinthians 12, we are together the Body of Christ, but every body is made up of different organs that have different functions, and they are all necessary. It is sadly common for people to feel rejected because not everyone participates in the particular ministry that consumes their attention. It is also common for people to look down on others for not being involved in the same things they are. Both of those are deceptions of the devil, again as Paul laid out in 1 Corinthians 12. Here we have Paul and Peter, certainly pillars of the early Church and vital to our faith even today, compared and contrasted. We would be far poorer if we lacked either of them in the history of the Church. Parenthetically, I have always thought it very interesting that God chose Peter, the Apostle to the Jews, to first share the Gospel with the Gentiles in the household of Cornelius. (Acts 10) I feel that went a long way in bringing about the acceptance of ministry to Gentiles, without making them convert to Judaism first, as is recorded in Acts 11, and again in Acts 15. Today we have a wide variety of major ministries, and an almost infinite variety of smaller, local ministries. All are important to God and worthy of our consideration and participation, but the fact of the matter is, we aren’t to participate in all of them. Some people try to do too much, and some even ruin their lives in the process. That is not at all an excuse for spiritual or physical laziness. Ephesians 2:10 is very clear that God has prepared work for each one of us, and we are to be diligent in recognizing His guidance and following it, without demanding that others do the same job.

My mother and my wife are among the many who broke off relationships over this issue. They knew they were called by God to missions, and those they were attracted to did not have that calling, so that took them out of the running. God in time rewarded their faithfulness by giving them partners who shared their calling, but the decision to wait for such a partner can be heart-wrenching. I wasn’t aware of that factor in my own case, but at this point I can certainly see that God knew what He was doing. Cathy and I have shared a remarkable, and delightful, spiritual unity in that area. At the same time, I have experienced pressure from many sides to join this, that, or the other group with a specific focus, when I felt no “burden from the Lord” in that direction. One that immediately comes to mind I got started in, which opened the door, and then the Lord enabled me to pass it off to someone else, who has done a very commendable job at it. I don’t want to refuse any task the Lord has for me, but I don’t want to let merely human or humanistic activities tie me up. I am very aware that God sometimes has tasks for us that are way out of our comfort zone. Moses was not an administrator at all, but God tasked him with leading the entire people of Israel out of Egypt. That said, He far more commonly assigns tasks that make use of the resources – abilities and supplies – He has already provided. I am to be active in seeking to recognize whatever he has for me to do and doing it with all my heart, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that our church Thanksgiving dinner went so well last night, and for getting me through the whole day. Thank You for Cathy and Ann recognizing that this is annually perhaps my highest-stress day of the year, since I am an introvert. Thank You that this time was easier to get through than many have been. I pray that the ministry that was done yesterday, verbally and otherwise, would remain in people’s hearts and bear the fruit that You intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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