You shall be called priests of the Lord; you shall be named ministers of our God.
2 Timothy 1:6
Paul wrote to Timothy: I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you.
Jerry was a junior in high school when I first met him. He introduced me to photography. We became close friends, and I soon learned that he wanted to be a Lutheran pastor. That was somewhat unusual to me; few kids in high school really knew what they were going to do with their lives. Even fewer would admit to wanting to become a pastor. Jerry was different in other ways as well. He was an earthy guy – no goody-two-shoes that’s for sure. Yet he believed in Jesus Christ and wanted to serve him as a pastor. Jerry had a huge impact in my life, for which I am thankful. Jerry was the one who convinced me to be a pastor.
Jerry served as a pastor for only about 10 years before dying suddenly of a heart attack. But Jerry had served as a minister of God and a priest of the Lord for many more years than that. He recognized – even while in high school – that he had gifts to share. He realized that it wasn’t only pastors who relayed the word and shared the Good News of Jesus.
We tend to think in terms of a hierarchy of religious involvement and faithfulness that is shortsighted to say the least. We think of worshipping regularly as the first step of religious commitment and faithfulness. Next comes singing in the choir, serving as an usher, or helping out on the AV team. When we take on teaching Sunday School, working with the youth, or even serving on a committee, we imagine we’ve climbed a little higher on the commitment/faithfulness ladder. To climb to the top we become a pastor or full-time church worker, and if we become a foreign missionary we have launched into orbit!
Those are wonderful things to do; I am deeply thankful for all who serve in various ministries of the church. But faithfulness starts in the heart of the believer and may or may not lead one to do any of those things listed above. Sadly, one can serve in the most noble of callings and fail to be faithful. But when we take the gift of eternal life and salvation that Jesus has won for us, embrace it fully in our hearts by faith, and let his grace and truth shape our every-day decisions and activities, we are being faithful. That can be true of a photographer, CPA, teacher, parent, student, secretary, attorney, or friend.
We are redeemed children of God. As such we are priests and ministers of God. That is true no matter what our earthly vocation may be.