Daniel 7:15-16 and The Need for Each Other

dan8-gabeWhen God created, he made the world so that we are mutually interdependent upon each other. This is seen in simple things like procreation, where we need more than one person to create a new human being, and it is seen in more complex things like the way Jesus set up the Church. No one person has all of the spiritual gifts necessary to be a solitary Christian. We all need one another to complete the beautiful picture of the Church Christ has for us.

Absolutely wonderful example of this comes from Daniel (since the same God is behind the Old Testament and the New Testament, this should come as no surprise). Look at this passage and see if you notice anything out of the ordinary for how we usually picture Daniel:

15 Now this caused me, Daniel, to worry. My visions disturbed me greatly.16 So I went to one of the servants who was standing ready nearby. I asked him for the truth about all this. He spoke to me and explained to me the meaning of these things.

This is the man who explained dreams and visions to kings and rose to great heights in different kingdoms because of it. Now he himself has a dream and cannot understand it without someone else explaining it to him. God makes us dependent upon one another. In this way no one person can be puffed up with pride.

Remember, the next time you are with fellow Christians, that we need each other for the Church to be all that Christ intends it to be. This means that we need other Christians in our lives for spiritual growth and maturity for ourselves, and it also means that other Christians need us serving with the gifts God gave us for their own spiritual growth and maturity. We all have a part to serve in the Body of Christ, and for the Body to work, all the parts have to work.

Ephesians 4:11-16 and the Pastor’s Role

ephesians4I have been in pastoral ministry for almost fifteen years now and I am still amazed at how many people think it is solely the job of a pastor to be in ministry.  It is as if many think that all of the spiritual gifts God has have been given to one person–the pastor–and because of that fact it is the pastor’s job to do ministry.  After all, that’s what they pay the pastor for, right?

Paul takes exception to this idea.

He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.   His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ.  As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others.  Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ,  who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.

Here we see that the role of a pastor is not simply to do ministry, but to equip God’s people, the Church, to do ministry.  This presupposes a couple of things.  First, all members of the Body of Christ have spiritual gifts from God–every single one.  Second, because of those gifts, all members of the Body of Christ have a specific ministry to which they are called and are to use that giftedness in service of the Church.

When the pastor fulfills the role of equiping the Church for ministry, and all members of the body of Christ are involved in the respective ministries to which they have been called and for which they have been gifted, two more things happen.

First, the Church has a unity of faith and doctrine.  The members, because they are serving God, have to stay connected to God more fully than they would otherwise.  And by seeing how God is at work through them, they have a more experiential understanding of God and his Truth than simply a “head knowledge” that can be swayed with a well-reasoned argument.  Equipping the saints for ministry helps keep doctrinal integrity in the Church.

Second, the Church grows.  When ministry is happening all around, and with everyone, there is no telling how many lives will be impacted for God.  Besides, times have changed.  It used to be that a Christian could define himself or herself as a Christian or a member of a particular denomination by what they did not do.  No one is listening to these kinds of definitions any more.  Now people want to know what Christians do.  If the whole body is involved in ministry, there are ample opportunities to tell people what Christians do.

The pastor’s role is very important, and it is a very specific ministry within the body of Christ, but it is not the only ministry.  When we reduce ministry to “the pastor’s job,” we are inviting theological disunity and a plateaued or shrinking Church.