A real feat: growing smaller
What do a hammer and a screwdriver have to do with church? What should women remind their husbands of? And which member is the most important one on the body of Christ? From a divine service for ministers—but not only for them.
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider based his divine service in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on 8 December 2017 on 2 Peter 3: 18: “… but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”
A double learning process
“Those who have stopped learning are already half dead spiritually.” The Chief Apostle started by speaking about growing in knowledge. He said that the ministers have been called to proclaim the gospel, but above all they have been called to learn from Jesus Christ themselves. And that means: taking time and occupying themselves with His word and His teaching and seeking Him in prayer.
“Our ministry does not protect us from sin, on the contrary.” Growing in grace means internalising more and more just how much we depend on the grace of God, he continued.
- The grace of election: it was not man who decided for Jesus, but Jesus who decided for man.
- The grace of the forgiveness of sins: everyone, without exception, has missed doing the good they should have done and really want to do.
- The grace of help: without this our own efforts would be completely in vain.
The greatness of being small
“It’s as if a hammer and screwdriver boasted about building a house.” Gratitude for the grace which God grants shows itself in one’s humbleness toward God and one’s neighbour. Man is only the instrument, the Chief Apostle said. God is the master-builder.
“Brothers, if you really want to be great in your ministry, make yourself small.” Some talk at length about all that they have achieved. But in the end, honour is due to God alone. “You have the right to remind your husbands about this,” the Chief Apostle addressed the wives of the ministers.
“Just because we have a certain function in the Church does not mean that we are greater in the eyes of God.” Apostle Paul spoke about the image of the body of Christ. All members and all organs have their function. And all the individual parts serve the whole, the Chief Apostle emphasised, and also included musicians in this context.
Let us fulfil the role we have been assigned, the Chief Apostle said.
- Jesus exhorted His followers to act and to serve in accordance with His example. The ordination only lends us a certain function, not special importance or prestige.
- Jesus did not want to punish the sinners. He wanted to save them. He loves all people with the same love.
- The task of the ministers is to strengthen people’s faith in Jesus , and not to have an answer for all of life’s questions that members may have. “Let’s not hesitate to say: ‘I don’t know why God allows this, but I know one thing: He loves you; trust Him.’”
- The authority of the ministry is limited strictly to the proclamation of the gospel, the Chief Apostle continued. Whoever gives concrete advice concerning life’s questions must be aware that he is doing so alone on the basis of his personal perspective.
- Anyone who serves needs certain skills. These are not imparted with ordination. It is important to acquire and develop the required skills.
“The Lord washed the feet of His disciples and invited us to follow His example,” Chief Apostle Schneider said in conclusion. “If we follow His example, we are fulfilling what it says in the Bible text: to Jesus Christ be glory both now and forever.”