Your Ministry Is Our Ministry

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11

As we have seen, Ephesians 4:11-12 reveals that all of God's people are ministers. Pastors and other church leaders are the "coaches" who equip their members for ministry in the church and in the world. Thus, you might rightly conclude that you are a minister of Jesus Christ. You have a ministry, the ministry of living your whole life for God and God's purposes.

This is true, but it's not the whole truth of your ministry. There is something else we must notice, something that could be easily missed when read through the lens of American culture. Our individualism can keep us from seeing what is abundantly clear in this text, namely, that your ministry is our ministry.

This truth is implied in verse 12, where pastoral leaders are to equip the saints (all of God's people) for the work of ministry or, as the NIV puts it, "for works of service." (Both "ministry" and "service" are possible translations of the Greek word diakonia.) The language here suggests a picture of church leaders working together to equip church members for their common ministry.

This suggestion is amplified in the end of verse 12 and in verse 13: "so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." The result of our ministry is the edification of the body, the church. Notice, once again, the emphasis upon the unity of the church. The growth of the body is not only a matter of larger size, but also of deeper unity. The maturity envisioned in verse 13 is corporate, the maturity of the church as it becomes more and more like Christ.

To be sure, each one of us is a minister of Christ. Each one of us has our particular ministry, our place of service in the church, our opportunity for service in the world. Yet, if you envision your ministry as separate from the ministry of your Christian community, then you miss the stirring vision of this passage. You are a minister of Christ in fellowship and collaboration with his other ministers. You are not alone as you seek to serve Christ in your church, family, school, store, and office. You are part of a ministry family, a team that plays together, a body that is designed so all parts work in concert to do the ministry of Christ.

Too often, Christians try to serve Christ on their own. Their isolation from other believers not only falls short of the biblical vision, but also almost always fails. If you try to be a minister of Christ by yourself, it won't work. If you share in his ministry with your co-ministers, then your efforts will bear fruit as God's Spirit works through the ministering community.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you tend to think of your ministry in individual terms, or as a member of a ministering community? How might the biblical vision of corporate ministry change the way you think, feel, and act? Are there actions you can take so as to be an active participant in a community of ministers, rather than a Lone Ranger?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the privilege of being one of your ministers. Thank you for giving me gifts and talents that I might devote to your service. Thank you for opportunities to serve people in your name and for your purposes.

Yet, Lord, even as I thank you for these gifts, I recognize my tendency to go it alone. I can so easily think in terms of "my ministry," rather than "our ministry." Forgive me for seeing myself so individualistically. Help me to think of myself as part of your community of ministers. Teach me to learn to rely on others, to share in ministry with them, both in giving and in receiving. May your work in this world through me be strengthened because I am collaborating with my fellow ministers as we strive together to serve you. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.

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