Acts 13:1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.
There are a number of things about the early Church that I don’t think we grasp very well, and I think a big one is the whole matter of leadership. There were no seminaries, denominations, or accrediting boards of any kind. Those who became leaders were very simply those whose gifts were acknowledged by the believers around them, and they were a very diverse group indeed. Saul was the only one of this group whom we know had specifically theological training. Manaen was probably well educated, since he had been raised in a royal household, (the Japanese says he shared a wet nurse with Herod) but the others were essentially nobodies. It’s interesting to note that Simeon was usually called Black, probably in reference to his skin color. Political correctness hadn’t been invented yet! The thing is, these men were recognized leaders because people saw the Holy Spirit operating through them. There are some groups today that use “prophet” as an organizational title, but there is no Biblical justification for that whatsoever. It seems likely that some of these men functioned as both prophets and teachers, but in any case, the terms were descriptive rather than assigned. The Church today would be in much better shape if we got back to that sort of thing. It’s sad to me that people put things like “prophet” and “apostle” on their business cards. God certifies those He calls and designates!
As I am reminded from time to time, I was raised in what some would consider a rather heady environment, with people who are literally in history books today staying in our house when they came through town. Because of that, I have always been aware that every human being is exactly that, human, and none are “demigods.” I have been glad to meet various people who have been affirmed by the Holy Spirit, but I think I am pretty well insulated against titles of any sort. At times I am very aware of authority and responsibility the Lord has placed on me, but most of the time, not so much. Self-important people tend to resent me, but that’s no skin off of my nose. I am to recognize those whom the Lord has gifted and called and not run from my own place in that, but at the same time remember always that all ability and authority rests in God and not in man. We are all accountable to Him for what He has placed in us, whether it causes us to be noticed or not. He is our judge, our “Employer,” if you will, and we must never forget it.
Father, thank You for this reminder. You have been giving various intimations over the past few months that my role is going to shift, but I still have little if any grasp of what that means. Help me be totally submitted and available to You for however You want to use me – or not, as You choose – so that Your plans may be accomplished on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!