In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave his disciples a high calling: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
The ministry of Jesus was not an easy one, and it was critically countercultural. He gave high regard to women and cared for them, revealing himself first to women after his resurrection. Unlike a worldly king, he washed the dirt from the road off the feet of his disciples -- a subservient action that was meant to show a new way for mankind to be in relation to one another.
The dog-eat-dog world of advancement was to be replaced by a new way of life in the church. Being a minister would mean a life of high integrity, service to others, and, of course, baptizing new believers and teaching them how to be a follower of Jesus. He challenged human authority that lorded itself over the weak, and lived out the spirit of all law: Love God, love others.
Good pastors take this responsibility seriously. I hope you have had a pastor who warmed your soul and who has walked beside you through life's ups and downs. I hope you have seen Christ's love through a shepherd who took seriously the role of being a reflection of the life and ministry of Christ to you.
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I also hope you have felt inspired at some point to take up the call of Jesus yourself, and that you have taken up the call to "Go" to other nations (or the next neighborhood) and bring to others the nourishment that only the spirit of God can bring.
Each person called by God brings vitality to the puzzle of ministry. To put it in a more modern way, we are called to "bring it," according to the gifts and talents we have, in response to the love God showed in his own life and ministry. If you bake cookies, bake cookies for Jesus; if you play guitar, get out there and play those strings for God's glory -- on the streets or in your own yard.
Personally, I've thought about sticking a sign up in my yard that says, "Bible Study, Tuesdays, 5 p.m." and each Tuesday I'll just be there for anyone who walks by and is interested. I know one of God's gifts in my life has been a love and joy for teaching. Since there are so few people who know the depths of the Bible today, I'm thinking of just offering my thoughts, prayers and knowledge to anyone who wants it -- whether they're a believer or not. I might be surprised to see the people God might bring my way. But I've got to do it, and it has to become more than an idea; it's become a call to action.
Regardless of age, regardless of education level, regardless of who you think you are, God has called you. Perhaps you're not meant to be a pastor, but you have a calling, and it is to care for the people of the earth. Maybe you saw a PBS special on India, and your heart felt compelled to make a difference there -- Go! Perhaps your neighborhood has been falling apart after some tragic crime and someone needs to spark words of hope into that community at a gathering -- Go! Perhaps you know you're too comfortable and haven't been challenged in your current setting; you need to feel needed again, and you're not sure where to start -- Go!
Begin searching and look for a place where God is saying to you, "Here are the people I've created. Love them like I love them."
There are people who need you everywhere, and I hope you know you need other people too. True treasure is to be connected to God and through His love, connect to all the people of the earth. Let this be a new adventure, and remember that life from an eternal perspective never ends.
Let's be the called, and, together, lets get moving.