Serving those who serve
Fair like an athlete, focused like a soldier, and untiring like a farmer… The latest service for ministers by the Chief Apostle was all about exemplary attributes, but also about tasks and sources of strength.
On 22 January 2022 Chief Apostle Schneider conducted a divine service for ministers in Palanca in Angola. On account of the pandemic, however, he was not able to travel to Angola and instead had to resort to a video service, which he conducted in Bad Bergzabern in Germany.
He based his sermon on 2 Timothy 2: 2: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” The Chief Apostle outlined the subject as follows: “As Apostles and co-workers of the Apostles, our task today is to preach the gospel as it has been handed down to us through the testimony of the first Apostles.”
The Chief Apostle explained the mission that Jesus entrusted to His Apostles and, consequently, to their co-workers.
- “We have the mission today to preach the gospel as it was handed down to us through the testimony of the first Apostles.” The message is: “Jesus came to give human beings the possibility of entering His kingdom.”
- “This is the second aspect of our mission: to motivate the members to pass on the gospel to their children and their fellow human beings, and to teach them to become credible witnesses of Jesus Christ.”
- “We are to prepare the bride of Christ, in other words, those souls who, as the royal priesthood, will carry the gospel to all people in the thousand-year kingdom of peace.”
Obviously, one needs strength to accomplish such a mission. Where does it come from? “From the grace of Jesus Christ,” the Chief Apostle explained. What grace does Jesus bestow on Christians?
- “Jesus chose us, He died for us.” He conquered evil and made Christians joint heirs. “This is the gift of grace that God gives us, from which we draw the strength needed to serve the Lord; out of gratitude.”
- “It is a grace that God speaks to us, that we can receive the body and blood of Jesus.” And: “Even if you have to preach this yourself, dear brother, draw strength from this preaching!”
- Salvation cannot be earned, but God grants it out of grace. “God does perfect things with imperfect human beings.”
The Chief Apostle cited some specific examples from the letter to Timothy to show the ministers how a servant of God should work.
The fourth verse talks about a soldier, who goes to war and does not get entangled in the affairs of everyday life. This does not mean that we cannot lead a successful earthly life. In fact, we are to lead a very normal life in our family, our marriage, and in society, but we must always be aware just how important our ministering is. It is a matter of eternal life or eternal separation from God, the Chief Apostle said. “That is why we should not allow ourselves to be distracted by earthly things.”
The next verse speaks about competing in athletics. An athlete can only win if he plays by the rules. The Chief Apostle went on to list three rules for ministers. The first is: “You are to serve, not rule.” He warned against paying more attention to one’s own person, power, or honour than to one’s brothers and sisters in faith. Secondly, we should not expect more from God than He has given us. “Trust the Lord, minister to the members with what He has given you.” And the third rule is: “The most important thing for the Lord is unity.” The Chief Apostle warned that one thought, no matter how well-intentioned, can destroy unity if it does not come from the Holy Spirit.
The sixth verse of the Bible text mentions a hardworking farmer who should be the first to partake of the crops. “Serving the Lord requires effort. And it requires perseverance,” the Chief Apostle said. Serving the Lord is not about individual achievements—achieving something big once and then nothing for a long time. “No, it is a matter of constant work.” He went on to say that a servant of God also needs to adapt. Just as a farmer cannot plough and harvest with the same equipment, we cannot deal with and treat all the brothers and sisters in the same way either. And the statement in our Bible text that the farmer must be the first to partake of the crops means that the word and sacraments must first produce a change in the heart of the preacher.
“If we serve with all our heart, we will be the first to benefit from the action of God’s word and the sacraments,” the Chief Apostle said in closing. “Let us continue to serve in this manner, and we will experience God’s blessing.”