In writing this article my hope is to inspire a new level of interaction and love expressed in the believers. I’m not seeking to come down on anyone, but to build up your faith and confidence that God wants to empower you to serve others. Every one of us is called to reach out to and be a blessing to others. Each of us are called to be a minister and called to a ministry.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
(1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV)
Frequently the term “minister” is used to describe someone who preaches or teaches the word of God. However, I have great disdain for using this terminology in this manner. The word minister means servant. Every believer is a minister of God. Peter writes that ALL believers are priests you are a “holy priesthood” built up “to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” This can not in any way be limited to pastors or preachers. Each of us has a ministry to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God. The word “sacrifices” should not be understood as in the English terminology as in we are really making a sacrifice to do this. As though we are sacrificing some kind of joy or job or whatever it might be. This is a type that Peter is using. The priests of the old covenant offered animals as a sacrifice to God. Sacrifices in the old covenant were used for two things, one way was to stand in the stead of the offerer to cover his sins and the other was in worship to God. Our spiritual sacrifices falls into the second category as the first category is fulfilled in Jesus Christ once for all. As priests we are to offer worship to God. Not merely through singing or praying though these play an integral part. I will draw further on this imagery using a writing of Paul to the Romans.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
(Romans 12:1 ESV)
As priests we offer up our bodies as a living sacrifice which is our spiritual worship. This is the spiritual sacrifice that Peter speaks of. We offer our bodies up as holy and therefore acceptable to God. This not only involves obedience to the commands of God out of a pure heart, but also offering ourselves for God’s use to serve and love one another. Each of us has a role to play in serving, helping and ministering to those who need the gospel, who are hurting in the body of Christ, who need prayer and loving our neighbor and enemy. There are so many ways that we can serve others. Just a call to tell them we love them and are praying for them means so much to people.
Sometimes we over spiritualize the gifts of the Spirit and don’t understand that a word of wisdom can simply be something that the Lord put on your heart for someone else or a word of knowledge could be you waking up in the middle of the night, knowing someone needs prayer and praying for them, then letting them know about it. Each of us who are in the body of Christ can operate in the gifts. A gift is not an office, but simply a purpose that God wants to use us for. The gift of the Spirit may come only once in a lifetime or it could come frequently. God divides to every person as he wills and purposes.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
(1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV)
To each and every believer that is baptized into the body of Christ (‘by one Spirit are you baptized into one body’) the manifestation of the Spirit is given. What is the purpose of receiving the manifestation of the Spirit. So you can glorify yourself? No, it is for “the common good” as Paul wrote. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every Spirit born believer so that we would be able to minister to and serve others for the glory of God. As in the old covenant when God gave the spirit of wisdom to men and women to build the tabernacle of witness so does he give the Spirit to us so that we can together build up the spiritual house of God, the church. (The church is not a building, the church is all believers.) God has gifts in his body for every man and every woman.
Every person can operate in the gifts of the Spirit for the good of others. Every person has a ministry to the other believers and neighbors around them. We cannot sit back and wait for the pastor and his wife to reach out and help every person. We must follow the leadership of the Spirit and be used of God to reach out and bless others. This is the purpose of the body, many members, one body. Every gift should be used in order as Paul wrote. There are varieties of service or ministry, but the same Lord and there are varieties of activities but it is the same God who empowers them in EVERYONE. It does not say it is the same God that empowers them in the pastor or the associate minister. No, it says in EVERYONE.