The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Do you recognise your role as a minister? 

Praise photoRev Matt Stone reminds us that as Christians we are all priests and ministers, and encourages each one of us to start living like it both within and outside of the church.

I used to live near a church whose notice board read:
“Ministers: Every member of the congregation”
Only a few lines later – in much smaller print – did it give the names of the Vicar and the Churchwardens.
The reality of Christian life is that we are all priests and ministers. Peter writes: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet. 2:9, NIV)
Similarly, in Revelation (1:6 and 5:10), John refers to us all as “priests.”  Thanks to Jesus’ death and resurrection, and God’s staggering grace, we no longer need someone to mediate between us and God. Jesus is our High Priest (1 Tim. 2:5), and each and every one of us can boldly approach God’s throne because of the forgiveness he has won for us (Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16). Each and every one of us can be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, being a temple of His presence, power and love (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
What does it mean for each of us to be a minister or a priest?
Our verse from 1 Peter lays it out for us: we have been chosen, called and set apart to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  Being a priest means being a worshipper and a witness. These are tasks that have to take place both within and outside of the church.
The author Eugene Peterson writes that pastoral work inside the church is about keeping everyone “alert to the magnificence of salvation.” This is the task of paid church leaders, yes, but it’s also the task of every Christian. So often we can talk the church – and one another – down. But we should be building one another up in faith! We should be witnessing to one another, sharing testimonies of what God is doing in our lives, reminding one another of the magnificence of salvation (and it is pretty magnificent!). We worship an amazing God who does amazing things.
Outside of the church, we have a great task to declare what this amazing God has done in our lives. Again, there is a place for testimony, for sharing our stories, for talking about the joy of living in the light.  Again, we have to stop being anti-evangelists, grumbling about the church to our non-Christian friends, and start sharing the wonderful blessings of a life lived with God in a community of faith.
So often the thought of evangelism, or witnessing, or sharing our faith, can be incredibly daunting, but that’s because we always want to over complicate it. None of us can convert someone to Christian faith – not even the most gifted evangelist. Only God can do that. Being a priest is simply about creating a space in our lives for the Holy Spirit to work. Being a priest means praying simply and persistently, “Here am I, send me” (Isa. 6:8). To share the good news, all we have to do is turn up and ask God to use us. Yes, it really is that simple!
We are all priests. We are all ministers. Let’s stop pretending otherwise, and let’s be people through whom God works!

Photo: 'Praise Him, Praise Him (:' by Courtney Carmody on Flickr shared under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Matt Stone is a Minister in the Norwich Area group of United Reformed Churches.
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