Believe, love, and remain focused

What exactly is the mission of the Apostles? Not only did the District Apostle Meeting discuss this question, but the Chief Apostle devoted an entire service to it. For in the answer lies the principal commission given to all believers.

On 21 November 2021, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider conducted a divine service in St Gallen, Switzerland, in the presence of the District Apostles and their assistants who had participated in the conference of the International District Apostle Meeting. He based his sermon on 2 Corinthians 11: 2: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

Paul describes his apostolic mandate in this Bible text. He and the other Apostles were to prepare the bride of Christ. “He uses the image that often occurs in the Bible: the image of the bride and bridegroom,” the Chief Apostle explained. It distinguishes the relationship between God and humans, he said. In the New Testament it is eminently clear: “The bridegroom is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ presents Himself and says of Himself: ‘I am the bridegroom.’”

The tasks of the believers

The faithful who want to be part of the bridal congregation ask themselves the question: “What do we have to do to be part of it?” The Chief Apostle listed some conditions. They must

  • believe in Jesus Christ: “We have been chosen by God to be part of this bride. We have to believe this of course.” And: “We must respond to the call and indicate: I have understood, I have been chosen, I have heard the call, I am coming.”
  • love Jesus: “We must love Jesus Christ. The bride and the bridegroom are in love. This is not a relationship based on calculation, but on love. Those who belong to the bride have a relationship with the Lord that is based on love.”
  • focus on Christ: “The bride says, ‘Come!’ She is waiting to be reunited with her bridegroom and is preparing for it.”
  • be pure and faithful: “A pure virgin is anxious and asks God: ‘I really need grace to reach the glorious goal. I need to have my sins forgiven.’ Let us always ask ourselves: what are we still doing wrong, what must we still give up?”
  • become like Jesus Christ: “We are preparing ourselves for the perfect union with the bridegroom Jesus,” the Chief Apostle explained. For: “He will take those with Him who have become like Him, those of whom He can say: this is nature of My nature, this is life of My life, this is My being.”

The tasks of the Apostles

And then the Chief Apostle defined the tasks of the apostolate.

  • “They must help prepare the bride and proclaim: Jesus Christ loves you, He calls you, He will come soon to take you unto Himself.”
  • “The Apostles are sent to baptise with water and the Spirit. This covenant is the betrothal. The Apostle has the authority to dispense the sacraments and—to take the metaphor further—to carry out this betrothal, in other words, to enter into this covenant.”
  • “The Apostle has to make sure that the bride remains pure. It is therefore the task of the Apostle to explain again and again: this is the will of God, or this is not His will.”
  • “The Apostle must also encourage love for God. For the bride is the one who loves the Lord.” The measure of love for Jesus Christ is the love of the brothers and sisters for one another.
  • The last mission: “They must prepare the marriage supper of the Lamb. This is what they do when they celebrate Holy Communion with the congregation.” In so doing, they encourage the believers to grow into the nature of Christ. And they nourish the hope of Christ’s return.

Finally, the Chief Apostle addressed the brothers and sisters directly: “The Lord loves you and calls you: ‘Do you want to come? Then let’s prepare for it together.”

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Katrin Löwen
Switzerland, Chief Apostle, Divine service