Jesus strengthens the servant

God chooses, calls, and authorises a minister. What comes then, namely following the example of Jesus Christ, is every minister’s personal task. Thoughts from a sermon on authority and its pitfalls in exercising a ministry.

The ministers of the District Church Romania and their wives were invited to a divine service by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider on Saturday, 24 March 2018 in Ocna Mures (Romania). He based his sermon on 2 Peter 1: 10: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.”

It is not God who confirms such a call or election, but the Christian himself, the Chief Apostle said at the beginning of the divine service. Paul believed and was convinced that God had called him to minister as an Apostle. “This is also our conviction. In the Fifth Article of Faith of the New Apostolic Church it speaks of those who are ‘designated by God for a ministry’.”


Reborn out of water and Spirit, we have been chosen to serve Jesus, the Chief Apostle said. As witnesses in the world: “We are to bear witness of the gospel where we live.” And: “We want to testify that Jesus Christ forgives our sins, that He is right among us.” As members of the body of Christ: “Let us serve one another and put our gifts at the service of Jesus in the church of Christ.” As priests of God in the kingdom of peace: “That all human beings can come to Jesus Christ and enter the glory of God.”


It is Jesus Christ who is calling, not some or other person or organisation, Chief Apostle Schneider made clear. Jesus, who has called us, is perfect: “He knows everything. And if He has chosen and called us, He has certainly not made a mistake.” He is love: “We follow Jesus Christ and serve Him only. His love and His grace motivate us.” He is faithful: “If He calls us to serve Him, He will also give us the strength and the gifts needed to do so.”


When God calls someone into a ministry, He also imparts a gift: “That is the ministerial authority!” he said. “He has given us this authority in the name of Jesus Christ to proclaim the gospel and to dispense blessing in the name of God.” And that means that when a Priest or Deacon pronounce this blessing at the end of a divine service, this blessing has the same value as if Jesus Christ Himself had pronounced it, the Chief Apostle said. In addition to this, Jesus Christ has given the priestly ministers the authority to dispense the sacraments Holy Baptism and Holy Communion

Focused on Christ

“In order to be strong in our ministry we must know Jesus Christ,” the Chief Apostle continued, adding that ministers receive strength through fellowship with Jesus Christ and by focusing on Him. “He wants to save the sinner. We do not expect God to punish sinners,” the Chief Apostle said, “but we make sure that all people can come to Jesus Christ in order to be saved.” Knowing Jesus also means that we want to serve in the same way as the Lord did. The Chief Apostle reaffirmed once more: “To be active in the mind and spirit of Jesus Christ means to be aware of the fact: I am a servant and not a ruler.” And a third distinguishing feature is serving in unity: “Those who know Jesus Christ know that it is His wish and will ‘that they all may be one.’”


“If we go about our work in this way, Christ will strengthen us and we will not stumble,” Chief Apostle Schneider assured the congregation. “If we are truly motivated by love, if we love Jesus Christ, if we love our neighbour, we will keep going despite trials and difficulties,” he explained in the context of an objection that may be raised: “I worked so hard, yet God does not answer my prayer.” The Chief Apostle mentioned a second pitfall: “True servants continue to work even if no one thanks them for it.” After all, “we cannot expect the congregation to commend us for it or to thank us. We are a tool in the hand of God.” Another pitfall could be a lack of means: “We have to work with what we have been given. Even if we have very little, we continue to serve.”

In summing up, Chief Apostle Schneider said the following: “We perform our tasks as witnesses of Jesus Christ where He has put us, filled with love for God and our neighbour. We serve the congregation with the gifts He has given us. We serve with our ministry and our ministerial authority in love, humbleness, and unity. If we work like this in the mind and spirit of God, Jesus Christ can strengthen us.”

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