Sharing suffering and glory with Jesus

Responsible for congregations, districts, and more? The Chief Apostle recently encouraged the leading ministers and gave them a very simple guideline: “We share the sufferings of Christ.” How this can be done without getting hurt too badly, he explained recently in South Africa.

“The rectors have a key function in our Church.” This is how Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider greeted all the rectors of the New Apostolic Church Cape and their wives in our Tafelsig church in Cape Town on Thursday, 15 December 2016. He based his sermon on the following Bible text: “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly” (1 Peter 5: 1–2).

The sufferings of Christ

At first, the Chief Apostle explained the term “elder”. In the early church this did not designate a ministry but was a leading function in a congregation. That is why the Apostle can be referred to as fellow elder in this epistle. “Actually, all of us are elders, because we are in charge of a part of the church.”

In his sermon, however, the Chief Apostle focused on the sufferings of Jesus, which Apostle Peter saw with his own eyes. Even Jesus’ own family did not understand Him. He was even criticised when He did miracles, although all He wanted to do was to help and heal. And then He met with ingratitude, rejection, and betrayal.

Perceiving them …

“As elders who are in charge of the Church, we must be aware of the sufferings of Jesus Christ for God’s children,” Chief Apostle Schneider said, and directed the ministers’ attention to the congregations.

  • “Even if a brother or sister is a little special, or even very difficult, do not forget: for Jesus they were worth dying for.”
  • “If someone in the congregation suffers, Jesus suffers with him. … That is our first motivation to help, to comfort, and to bring relief.”
  • “Jesus suffers when a child of God goes lost. … Let us do everything that is possible—and even the impossible—to motivate them to come back.”
  • “He suffers if salvation is not at the core of our work. … Jesus wants us to concentrate on what is essential.”
  • “Jesus cleansed the temple because business was being carried on there. … He suffers every time someone wants to use faith and church for a reason other than salvation.”

… and sharing them

To be a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as our Bible text says, means to share the sufferings of Christ.

  • Completing our mission: A ministry is a lot of work and sacrifice. And sometimes the thought comes up: “O Lord, take this burden from me.” But the love of Jesus helps us to overcome obstacles.
  • Dealing with disappointments: Although Jesus’ lack of success in Jerusalem was painful for Him, He fulfilled His Father’s will. “That is the success we are looking for—not success in terms of money or numbers or honour.
  • Handling criticism: “We do not do our work in order to be cheered and congratulated by others. We work to please Jesus Christ. And as long as we work and serve Him out of love He will be happy with us.”
  • Showing that we care: “We want to be more than just a professional pastoral care worker who goes, does his job, and then leaves. We love our brother and sister and therefore share their pain.”

“We do not work for glory or money or a reward here on earth. Our goal is to share the glory of Jesus Christ in His kingdom,” the Chief Apostle said in conclusion. “People must be able to see in our own personal development how powerful Jesus is, how powerful God is.”

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Andreas Rother
South Africa, Chief Apostle, Divine service