December 14, 2015

Set Apart

In my last two church visits the congregations went to the effort to find out about my visits and then classified them as a ministry. At the close of both services these congregations took time to pray over me and pray for the outreach of the stories. I was both honored and humbled by their blessing. It’s not unusual for churches to set apart people for works of service, but we usually think in terms of someone going on the mission field, or taking a position in church ministry. I’m wondering if we underestimate the need to set people apart for any ministry into which they have been called. The disciples in the church at Antioch experienced such direction, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----The continuum has been one of my main analytical tools throughout my life. Every concept can be analyzed by it. For instance, observe the problem of alcoholic consumption by the continuum. Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for the sake of his stomach. He also assures us that no drunkard will enter the kingdom of heaven. The first observation we can draw is that, since this continuum begins with a positive and ends with a negative, somewhere between the prescription to drink and the proscription to drink is a line for not crossing. But where? Note the attitudes towards the consumption at both ends: at the first is the attitude of seeking a health benefit, at the last is the attitude of placating inner obsessions. Then, somewhere between the “little” at the beginning and the “too much” at the end is an attitudinal shift from achieving an actual benefit into an enslavement to inner psychological chaos. We could go on, but this makes my point about the utility of continuums.
-----The “upward call of God” can also be placed upon a continuum. Paul and Barnabas were set apart for the work to which they were called. Their work was very much missionary work: leaving home, wandering through the cities, directing all their efforts towards spreading the gospel and discipling the converts. God still calls people to special tasks in His purposes which alters lifestyles and activities sometimes completely. So we find preachers, missionaries, theologians, etc. on the intense end of the continuum. But on the other end we find janitors, salesmen, fishermen, a lawyer, or maybe two, and pretty much everything else (except politicians) also called for purposes, also with altered lifestyles and activities. My point here about observing the two by a continuum now isn’t about the differences it accentuates, but it is just that they both are on the same continuum, they are of the same set, they are of the same substance. Everyone who knows the Lord was called to that knowledge for purposes. So, this time, draw no line of attitudinal shift between the two, but make a notation of similarity.
-----Last week our preacher waxed well on waiting. Yesterday he waxed better on what to do while waiting. In fact, I thought this was one of the best lines of advice I’ve heard from a sermon. For the whole point of what to do while waiting was just to do the next faithful thing. That’s kind of the substance of the continuum on which being called is analyzed: doing faithful things. For that’s to what we’ve been called: faithfulness.
-----So, when I think of Paul and Barnabas having been set apart for their journeys, I then think of my life in Him as also having been set apart for purposes. That becomes something I can take seriously enough to begin analyzing each of my moments for what can make them deliberately purposeful for the Lord and setting it apart as the next faithful thing to do.

Love you all,
Steve Corey