We don’t need a title or a position to serve the Lord within the body of Christ…it only requires a willing heart. There is a clear role of ministry in place for each person involved in God’s work. God always operates with an order and purpose in how He desires for each of us to carry out His ministry. It is, ultimately, up to man to follow His direction, and man has, at times, deviated from God’s plan in the name of serving Him. While man’s involvement has attempted to redefine the roles that God had put in place, God has not changed.
In order to know how God operates, we can go back to the early Old Testament to see the consistency of His Word. He demonstrates this to affirm His purpose (Mark 10:2-7). Note that God will allow situations and circumstances to occur, but He always makes it clear what His intent is, and His intent for us has been consistent and it does not change.
A person called by God is considered to be a priest of God, just as Aaron was called to serve. In the same way, Jesus Christ, who is our High Priest, was also called to serve all of humanity for eternity. Those of us who are called to serve are part of a “priesthood of believers” (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 20:6)
All of us are chosen for ministry to serve others. The title of “believer in Jesus Christ” is not something to rest upon; instead, the Holy Spirit gives direction to work in a specific place or places within the body of Christ. This is part of His orderly function. The priesthood of believers, through our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, continues to serve Him in ministry and will reap the benefit of Christ’s eternal priesthood.
The Levites were the priests of God in the Old Testament. The priesthood of believers are those believers as described in the New Testament. Why? We know there were changes that took place within the Levite priesthood. Levites were found to have not been supported by the people. They did not follow God’s plan and purpose, and the Levites had to rely upon God to provide for them. When the non-support of the people was evident, they were forced to go back to their fields to make a living (Nehemiah 13:10). Note that God’s intent had not changed, but it was the hearts of the people who had changed, and it created a change within the Levites in their role as priests for the nation.
With the onset of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, we find a new priesthood that was set up by the Jewish authorities…the Sanhedrin, which was made up of the Sadducees (the righteous ones) and the Pharisees (the separate ones). This priesthood was not merged within God’s church. God’s emphasis was on the entire priesthood of believers. All who are saved are ministers of the priesthood of believers.
We also need to keep in mind what the words minister, preacher and priest stand for. All of us are called into ministry, and all of us are acting as mediators between the persons me minister to and God Himself (Acts 6:8-15, 7:1-56, 8:34-38). As ministers, we are to always be prepared to be a witness for Him. Stephen and Philip were both students of God, and they were prepared to speak up about God when given the opportunity. For example, baptism is not something that is to be done out of duty to the church–it is to be done when the heart of the person who wants to serve the Lord has the desire to live out his or her faith and demonstrate it to others.
A minister is one who serves another. A preacher is one who tells another person what God has declared. It is the oldest function within ministry (2 Peter 2:5).
All are called to preach and minister to others. We are to be priests to the lost of this world and to one another within the body of Christ.
“I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. This is what I command you: love one another” (John 15:15-17).
Our calling comes from God according to His direction and purpose, which remains in line with God’s order and intent. God has a specific role for men in this order, and a specific role for women. While man may have desires to live a certain way, he still needs to remain obedient to God’s Word, which brings those desires under control. There is much to learn, of course, by the believer who is responding to God’s calling, just as Jesus Christ was learning and growing during His earthly service (Hebrews 5:7-10).
For those that look to women being pastors, some have pointed to Acts 12:12: “When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many had assembled and were praying” (Acts 12:12). While ministry was occurring in the home, it does not mean that Mary was a pastor in her home. Note another passage–Acts 16:14-15: “A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul. After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.’ And she persuaded us” (Acts 16:14-15). Lydia and her household were ministered to, and had the desire to be baptized and serve others. That does not mean that Lydia operated in a pastoral role. Chloe alerted Paul that there were problems within her home, and she was seeking help and direction (1 Corinthians 1:11). That did not mean that she was a pastor. Priscilla (a woman) and Aquila (a man, her husband) used their knowledge of God to provide assistance to a learned man (a man willing to learn) to instruct him with additional information (Acts 18:24-26). This is a great example of a team, as husband and wife, to share and minister within the body. Neither of them were pastors, yet they gave freely of themselves. Priscilla may have had more knowledge of the word than Aquila (as implied here by being mentioned first), but that does not mean that he was not willing to learn more about God.
God calls one into ministry, but His calling comes with guidelines that are not a burden for those who serve Him. His calling follows his plan, order, and purpose, and all of these are scripturally supported. Make sure that your service for Christ, in all aspects, is based in scripture.