Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-21, Zephaniah 2:3, 1 Peter 5:5
You don’t have to have a Bible college diploma hanging on your wall. You don’t need a passport stamped from developing countries. Your name need not appear on the official list of staff members for your church. Plant your feet firmly in this truth: If you are a follower of Jesus, you are already a minister for the gospel. Because the stakes are high, this reality can paralyze us. We throw around words like “calling” and “ministry” so often, but we secretly suspect we’re somehow doing it wrong.
While confirming our assignment to be followers and leaders, Paul invites us to rest in this call. He offers us a two-word job description for ministry here in 1 Corinthians 4, inviting us to throw giftedness, opportunity, and needs into a pot, and boil ministry down to its very essence. What is ultimately required of us as ministers? To be “servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God” (v.1).
We are “managers of the mysteries of God.” Gulp! That sounds weighty, but in the same passage, Paul warns us “not to go beyond what is written” (v. 6). In other words, stick with Scripture. The mysteries of God we’re responsible to carry are the good news of the gospel and the Word of God.
Every believer—from the youngest to the oldest among us, both Bible scholars and Bible newbies—is a carrier of the good news with a shared responsibility to know and proclaim the Word. Paul is urging us, as disciples in ministry, to think of the Bible like a treasure. And it is! Like finding a cache of jewels buried in the backyard, we didn’t create this treasure, yet we get to claim it as our own as we carry it and deliver it to both the fellow believers and non-believers we rub elbows with each day.
God’s Word is a treasure because it reveals who God is. He is supreme, sufficient, spectacular, and in the full-time business of saving us from our sin. This cannot help but bend our knees and turn our hearts. As we steward God’s Word, we step into the other shoe that comes with ministry; we become servants.
We are willing to serve Christ’s Church because of all He has done for us. We are willing to serve those who don’t know Him by sharing who He is. We are willing to serve each other because we know now, deep in our guts, that none of us deserves a seat at this table. The chord we are bound to is grace, and it makes us want to share it in abundance with one another.
Regardless of your day job, no matter what titles you hold, and in spite of your sin and failures—you are a minister of the gospel if you are in Christ Jesus. His grace is your qualification. So serve faithfully and joyfully the God “who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God” (v.5). Amen.
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.