Sunday, October 9, 2011

You're A Priest

Overheard before the service: "My wife's here. Now I can start church."

Pastor Brad welcomed us even more warmly than the unseasonably warm weather we've had this week. Our topic today would be the second of four messages based on Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "My Turn Now." Brad shared last week how this song changed his life and this week began the service by playing it for us. Based on what Jesus has done, it's "my turn now to give my life away."

Today Brad's message would be an elaboration of this main point. There are two kinds of churches. In one kind of church the pastor is the professional who does ministry. In the second kind of church, we're all priests, all called to exercise our gifts.

Announcements included mention that Wednesday night family nights have begun and everyone is invited. Second, there will be a Hunter's Expo for men at Mission Covenant Church in Poplar on October 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Chuck led us in worship after which an offering was taken. The Scripture reading was from I Corinthians 12:12-31. This was followed by a time of prayer in which we were again reminded of the many needs around us. Brad then began his message.

You're A Priest

Brad began by underscoring that this was an urgent message. It's time to stop being a spectator and to get out of the stands.

There are two kinds of people at a ballgame, the players and the spectators. Spectators watch. Their gifts don't matter. Their proper role is to watch and enjoy the game. The Chicago Cubs fan who interfered with a fly ball a few years back was ostracized for his behavior. He was not a hero.

But imagine if things changed and next spring one of the fans decides he wants to get in the game and instead of sitting back as a spectator he jumps the rail and heads out onto the field, and the other fans follow so that we have 3o,ooo people on the field saying, "We want to be players."

God does not want a church made of clergy and spectators. This is not God's plan, Brad said as he directed us to Exodus 18. This is the passage where Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, points out that Moses alone cannot carry out all the responsibilities he is grappling with. Moses selects others to whom he can delegate some of the responsibilities of leadership.

At this point Brad commenced to ask us five important questions.

1) Do I perceive myself as a minister of Christ?
The structure in Egypt under Pharaoh was simple. There was Pharaoh and then there was everyone else. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt he followed the same pattern, until his father-in-law stepped in.

After the resurrection Peter, by inspiration, understood the new pattern for the church. We are, he writes in I Peter 2:4, a kingdom of priests. We are all, each of us, called to be a channel of God's grace to the world, not spectators.

2) Have you gotten in the game?
Have you actively stepped out of the stands to minister? God's will is for everyone to get out of the stands and to get in the game.

3) Am I growing in ministry?
God has gifted each of us in different ways. We have a responsibility to unwrap our gives.

At this point Brad told a story about Bob Nadine who as a child saw his own home go up in flames. It was Christmas and as he stood outside the house and watched flames licking the tree, he also saw the presents underneath and sprang into action, rushing in to the house to grab as many presents as he could. Perhaps the point for us is that we all have gifts and should not just let them go to waste.

4) Am I helping others grow in ministry?
Are we encouraging and affirming others who step out?

In Numbers 11, two men began prophesying and a young man ran to Moses to exclaim with concern, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” 29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!”

Indeed... Would that all God's people were prophets. Instead of criticizing them, Moses wished that he would like more like that.

5) Have you eliminated every ounce of pride in your life?
Numbers 12:3 states as an aside that Moses was the most humble man on earth. What's interesting is that the original word for minister in the Bible is also translated servant in other places. Spectators who want to become players are not those seeking the limelight, but those willing to serve. This is something we are all called to do and be.

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