All Christians are Sacramental Minions

Everyone who is in Christ is a Sacramental Minion.

All true Christians have been turned from a rebellious, militant revolutionary who seeks to overthrow God’s rule and authority, into a minion of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And He accomplishes this by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacraments.

A minion is – “a servile follower or subordinate of a person in power.” By virtue of God’s creative act in knitting us together in our mothers womb, all human beings are subordinate to Him. Unfortunately, we human beings are not born as servile followers. Instead, we have inherited a rebellious nature from Adam. We are born opposing God and desiring to overthrow His rule in the world.

How do we go from a rebellious, militant revolutionary seeking to overthrow God’s rule and work in the world to a servile follower of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ? How do we come to recognize that we are subordinate to Him and take joy in the fact that God has created us and continues to sustain us?

For this purpose, God instituted the work of preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments. Through these, as through means, God gives us the Holy Spirit. It is the very Spirit of God, Himself, who creates faith in us so that we believe that God is our good and gracious heavenly Father and we are His beloved children.

Pastors and Non-Pastors are sacramental minions.

Through the Word that God sends forth, through the baptism that God commands to be administered, and through the nourishment of the body and blood of Jesus, pastors and non-pastors are given to know the forgiveness and life that is theirs because of Jesus’ sacrificial death in their place. Though they remain weakened by original sin and because of this still commit actual sins, pastors and non-pastors alike are formed and renewed to live their lives in this world as God’s creatures. They recognize that they are subordinate to God and they desire to care for His creation as His stewards as God had intended from the beginning.

Different tasks given by our Lord Jesus.

The fact that God gives different tasks and different responsibilities to each is to be expected.

When Jesus tells the parable about the Laborers in the vineyard – where the master of the house goes out at different times of the day to hire workers for His vineyard and pays them all the same – a full days wages, even those who did not work a full day – it’s notable that the master does not call the workers and pay them Himself, directly. Instead, He calls the foreman – another servant – and tells him, “Call the laborers and pay them their wages.”

Our Master uses His Minions to Accomplish His purposes.

In this case, the foreman is given specific responsibilities and a specific task to do. He dare not neglect that task and he dare not exceed his office. He is a steward of the masters goods and as such, is only faithful when he follows the master’s commands. Even if the foreman had thought that it was unfair to pay the last workers the same as the first, he had no freedom to change the wages. Imagine the anger of the master, who intended to be generous, if the foreman had shorted the last workers!

We proclaim not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)

Those whom God has placed as pastors – “overseers” – in the Church, are servants – or, to use St. Paul’s term, “slaves” of Jesus (Romans 1:1). The Pastor is given the tasks and responsibility of the faithful and wise servant who gives food to the other servants of God’s house at the proper time and in the proper proportion (Luke 12:42ff).

A pastor is given specific tasks to do, “Feed my sheep,” said Jesus to Peter, and the duties and responsibilities of pastors – also known as overseers, elders, and bishops in St. Paul’s writings – are likewise specific. Where clear commands are given, pastors have no choice but to carry out the tasks of their office exactly as the master commands.

Pastors Ordained to Faithfulness

A pastor is called to labor in a specific area among a specific people. He is commanded to be faithful with what has been entrusted to him, even when the people are as obstinate and rebellious as the children of Israel who rebelled against Moses. Even if the congregation he is called to tries to starve him out or run him out of town on a rail, the pastor is to remain faithful to his calling for the sake of the lambs and sheep that remain among the wolves.

To be sure, he ought never confuse the fact that God has called him to this service with the idea that he is somehow infallible or is never wrong. Neither may he exult himself as “leader,” which is a great temptation – especially when things don’t seem to be going as well as he may hope.

The pastor must humble himself and recognize that he has a sinful nature that will seek to domineer and act as the leader of his congregation, casting his dreams and visions and desires as if they were the Lords and ignoring the clear orders of the one Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the true head of the church. It’s a great temptation, because like all people, until they breathe their last breath, all pastors still have the remnants of sin and therefore seek to be the leader of the pack. Such sin lead a pastor to act and behave as if he were the chairman and ceo of the congregation – as if he is the leader of the congregation instead of a simple servant placed there by Jesus.

If a pastor allows himself to think and operate in this way, he has proven himself to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  He has become unfaithful to the office into which God has placed him. This is why the Scriptures give to the members of a congregation the duty and responsibility to know and understand the scriptures and to provide correction and admonition to their pastor if he preaches, teaches and acts differently than the Scriptures command.

At the same time, the Scriptures clearly teach that unless God has clearly removed His Spirit from the man – proved by an obviously immoral lifestyle or the impenitent teaching of false doctrine – the properly called and ordained pastor is God’s man in that place for that time to distribute to that people what God has commanded Him to distribute. The pastor is to faithfully deliver the whole counsel God’s Word, in season and out of season, and to administer the Sacraments as Jesus has instituted them.  He is to do this “while he is going” – wherever it is the Lord calls him to go.

In addition to the commands given to every human being by God to love God with all his heart, all his soul, and all his mind and to love his neighbor as himself, the pastor given divine orders and added responsibilities – all of which are clearly laid out in the Scriptures.

Non-Pastors Ordained to Life

God has placed all people into their “offices” or “vocations.”  That is all that “ordination” is.  A placing under orders.

God has placed all people “under orders” to carry out specific tasks.  Child and parent, husband and wife, citizen, employee, employer, friend, neighbor, and even congregation member are all divinely ordered offices into which God has placed us.  And He has given specific duties and responsibilities to each of the offices we hold.

In some ways, non-pastors have substantially more outward freedom in the manner in which they carry out God’s command to love their neighbor.  Pastors are called by God to a specific place to love the people in that place in a specific way according to God’s command.  On the other hand, non-pastors often have greater freedom to choose where they live, how long they will live there, and how they will go about loving their neighbor.

Along with pastors, non-pastors must also remain obedient to the governing authorities God has placed over them (Romans 13:1-7) and carry out the duties of their offices.   But non-pastors may choose to love their neighbor in a variety of ways.  They may choose to be a teacher, a doctor, a dentist, a car mechanic, a construction worker, a farmer, a nurse, a police officer, a politician, a business owner, a “stay-at-home mom” or one of literally hundreds of other legitimate professions.  They may change professions if desired or the need is seen.

While there are many “marching orders” given by God to His minions no matter what their station in life, in many ways there is greater freedom for the way that non-pastors carry out God’s desire to live as their brother’s keeper in this world.

Pastors and Non-Pastors Remain Sacramental Minions

However, whether they are a pastor or not, they are sacramental minions. They receive their life and their salvation through the means God has appointed – the Word and the Sacraments. By these means, they are converted and changed from rebellious, militant revolutionaries who oppose God’s work and will in the world into servants of God who are renewed in the spirit of their mind and who have been created in Christ Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit for good works which God prepared beforehand that we would walk in them. Through the means of His Word and His Sacraments, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may test what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  And, through these means, we are fed, nourished, kept and sustained as loyal minions of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, who has redeemed and rescued us by His death and resurrection.

The works may differ, as St. Paul teaches when he talks about having many members in one body. But the status of the worker before God does not. Within each one’s station in life whether pastor or not, a person may have greater or lesser freedom in the tasks they choose versus those they leave undone. Yet, recreated by the power of Christ working in and through His Word and Sacraments, all Christians are made to be His Sacramental Minions.

Pastor Matthew Dent

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