Ministry and the Crucified Life

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Mat. 16:15-23 

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Gal. 6:14

Another word for “world” as used in this scripture is “flesh”.

I know of a man – actually a friend of mine – who was elected to the office of top diocesan bishop of his denomination. He celebrated that achievement by slaughtering a number of goats and ordering crates upon crates of pop soda for the many guests he had invited. There was music and dancing and the drinks flowed like the River Nile.

Lastly, many speeches were made by distinguished guests, praising and thanking the Lord for this great “favor” that He had bestowed upon His “humble servant”.

“Humble”, they might have said, but in their eyes our friend was now a big man.

But I doubt that the office that this man was elected to could compare in importance to the office that Peter was shouldered with on that day by Jesus. We see in this scripture that Christ conferred upon Peter the ministry of “chief apostle”. (You may call it whatever you like, but Jesus did confer some office or authority to Peter here).

Just as my friend did, Peter probably also thought of celebrating this great occasion. (He could have sent for old man Zebedee to bring in a boatful of fish…)

The problem in Peter’s case, however, was that Jesus happened to be on the scene. Jesus was around. And where Jesus is, there are very few worldly celebrations. And I am pretty sure that Jesus was not thinking about any celebrations at that particular time. He mostly likely was thinking about the responsibility He had just handed to Peter.

We might not know what was going on in both these men’s minds, but the fact is, no celebrations were forthcoming for Peter. Instead, moments after Jesus had conferred upon him that big title, Jesus turned around and rebuked Peter in the most scathing terms for – of all things – being an “agent” of the devil!

(I love the way Jesus did things. He could so quickly separate the wheat from the chaff!)

In other words, Jesus was telling Peter that even though He had just “upgraded” him to the status of archbishop, this hadn’t changed him one little bit on the inside.

It is clear from these scriptures that you can be in the ministry but still be a carnal Christian. That means we have three clear types of ministers within the Body of Christ:

  1. The fake ones. These are incredibly many.
  2. The genuine, but carnal ones. Another large lot. This is the group we have been discussing so far.
  3. The genuine and truly spiritual ministers. This is a very small group since, as Jesus said, Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat. 7:14). Notice the word few.

That is why I love the way the Apostle Paul preached. Y’know, Paul came and revealed these great ministries within the Body of Christ, and he also revealed many other things. He revealed about the power of the cross, about grace, about even the state of the dead, and of the return of Christ. Paul had such incredible revelation of the Kingdom of God!

Indeed, even the other apostles noticed and acknowledged that Paul had a special ministry and they gave him the right hand of fellowship. Peter eventually wrote about Paul and, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he talked about the special revelation that Paul had been given by God (2 Pet. 3:15).

This man, Paul, was no mean minister of the gospel.

But the truly captivating thing is that Paul, this “great minister” of the Word, would boast in none of those things. He would boast in nothing, absolutely – except only one: the cross of Jesus Christ.

He would only boast in a crucified life. He would boast only of what that cross had done to his flesh, and how in crucifying his flesh thereon he had been set free to do God’s will.

That is a lesson that every minister first, and then every believer, should learn above anything else. It is something that cannot be over-emphasized.

The way we know human nature, it is truly incredible that a man of Paul’s natural and spiritual capabilities could find nothing in all his experiences to boast about except what the cross had achieved in his life!

Today there are many things that people are boasting of in church. People are looking for things to boast in. The big titles, especially, are at a premium. Minister So-and-so. Apostle So-and-so. Prophet So-and-so.

Prosperity and the good life is also a big issue with these kinds of people. A high-profile preacher once took me to the multi-storied mansion he was building. He told me that even the local government was aware of his house. The house was so expensive I was thinking in terms of the CIA being aware!

But you wouldn’t have found the early apostles in any of these groupings or settings. They had nothing of this world – literally. No possessions, no fame, nothing. Jesus called Himself “The Son of Man”. He wouldn’t even call Himself the Son of God. And He had nowhere to lay His head.

But Jesus did achieve one thing. He carried His cross. The apostles also took up their cross and followed Christ. For them, all that mattered was taking up their cross and following Christ’s example.

[Sandwiched between State House and the Indian Ocean is a place where one can cool off from the hot mid-day Dar es Salaam sun]

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