You can use a hammer to do many things, from nailing a board to a stud to breaking a window to even more nefarious and criminal acts, but “why” was the hammer made in the first place? Answer that question and you’ll get to the very nature of a hammer’s existence. If it works for a hammer, imagine what kind of clarity asking “why” of yourself can achieve. The fact is, it isn’t a mistake that one of the first questions a toddler learns to ask is “why.” If you know the why, you will discover the what. If you know the purpose then you will discover the nature and the value of any idea or even person.
Look at our lesson today in Ephesians 4:7-13:
BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (in saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Paul defines for us the 5 Ministries that God gives the Church to get to the very heart of WHY the Faith makes you free and to have you live a Normal Orthodox life.
The First Role is Apostle. The truth is the Apostles that the Lord chose to build His Church, His “ekklesia,” upon were men who gave the rest of their lives to establishing the New Community of Christ for the whole world! And we still have these Apostles with us. We have their lives, their writings, and their prayers. We don’t need “another Apostle Paul” since we still have St. Paul with us, praying for us, and teaching us as well. The Apostolic Church is made up of these Apostles who provide us with a firm foundation for our Faith, and examples for us to follow.
Next, Prophets. Now what the passage means here isn’t some fortune tellers or “future” tellers, but Truth Tellers. If we are ever going to discover the WHY of our Faith, we are going to need folks willing to tell us the hard truth that refocuses us toward Christ. The Prophets have always done that. And they’ve usually gotten in trouble for it. But if we don’t have those voices that disturb our false thinking, we are enslaved, and you weren’t meant to be a slave!
Then, Evangelists. Did you know we pray for preachers and evangelists at every liturgy? Yep, we sure do. Every time the Epistles are read in the liturgy, we are hearing the “Good News” Every time the Gospel is proclaimed in the liturgy we are hearing the “Good News.” (that’s why you should always be at church in time to hear this!) Evangelists are those whom God has gifted to share the timeless wisdom of the Faith with others. When we are a healthy Church body, we have these gifts operating among us to keep us reminded that our WHY has EVERYTHING to do with loving others enough to give our greatest treasure away – Our Faith!
Next comes Pastors. These are those who have been given the burden of leadership, but not just leadership in some corporate sense. No, we call our pastors “father.” “Father” isn’t a title. It is a revelation of the true nature of the Church! And that revelation of relationship is meant to teach us WHY our Faith is more family than a club! Our Faith is supposed to create a new community, a new family that excludes no one and invites everyone to the hard work of new life in Christ!
Finally, Teachers. What a joy to know something so well, and you then turn around and teach others. Teachers of our Faith come in all shapes and sizes. From Sunday School teachers to instructors of deep theology. But the reality is, we are all “teachers” to one degree or another. Because we all live our lives every day based on the principles we deeply believe. The only challenge is whether I am willing to conform my life to the Teachings of the Faith, or am I going to be an example of someone who only claims to believe?
So, what’s the Goal of these 5 Ministry Roles? The Goal is our WHY – Equip the Saints, Build the Body of Christ, and FINALLY Attain Unity and Become Like Christ! That’s WHY these 5 Ministry Roles exist! And why they have existed since the very beginning of the Church. The Holy Spirit is working through the Church to create a new “Normal” for you so that you will see your life from an eternal perspective and be free to become by Grace who you were meant to be. These 5 ministries are all gifts to you to help you break free from the time-bound temptations that turn you into a monster rather than a saint! And make no mistake, today, you are becoming one or the other!
Today, where do you fit in this perfect design for creating a new universe based on the Love of God and salvation in Christ? Why are you an Orthodox Christian? If you hadn’t been born into an Orthodox Christian family, would have chosen Orthodoxy? Are you ready to embrace the WHY of your Faith and embrace the “Normal” Orthodox life that transforms you?
P.S. “You appeared to the world today, and Your light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us. With fuller understanding, we sing to You: “You came, You were made manifest, the unapproachable light.”