SUPPORT AND MOBILE MINISTRY
1 Corinthians 9:1-24 (NKJV). “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. My defence to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?
Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain."
“If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?”
It never ceases to amaze me when people do give they send it to TV evangelists who are complete strangers to them personally.
Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
The battle most servants of the Lord face is lack of financial support.
One way to avoid this is, don’t go unless you’re sure He is sending you. Because where He guides, He provides.
1 Corinthians 9:7. “Who serves as a soldier at his own wages at any time? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock and does not partake of the milk of the flock?
In many cases those called to Mobile Ministry, are fearful of financial hardship and so elect to stay within the comparative comfort and financial safety of a Pastoral position. The great struggle for these individuals is, “Can I trust the Lord for my support”. For many of the wives of these individuals, the thought of a leap into faith is more than they can bear. Who is going to pay the mortgage, the payments on the car, the children’s education, and our annual vacations? So these gifted servants have a battle on two fronts; whether to obey the Lord or give in to their wife. To be sure wives have good reason to be canny. Some Pastors have solved their problem by sending their wives out to work so they can follow their dream. I met a young man off to Trinidad Tobago with his family who pushed his wife to phone around asking for monthly support. What a scoundrel, shame on him for hiding behind his wife and getting her to beg for him.
These entrenched professional pastors are most definitely a “spanner in the works”, “a cork in the bottle”. They stunt the spiritual growth of all the saints young and old. Their position is unscriptural. This form of government must be dismantled. It creates power struggles and dictatorial paranoid leaders.
The glory of young men is their strength; the body needs the enthusiasm and strength they have to offer. If expression is not given they will take matters into their own hands and use it (more often than not) to their personal advantage, but to the detriment of others. So now we have to deal with a dichotomy in present religious systems; Churches being run by the impotent old guard on one hand; and infantiles on the other?
Young men need to curb their zealous aspirations to step out ‘full time’. They need to provide for their families if they are married. Raise their children in a godly environment; and study to show themselves approved unto to God, (and those around them) rightly dividing the word of truth. If they are faithful their time will come. The controlling professional class need to get out of God’s way and resign forthwith.
It’s true that we do have the right to expect to be supported as Paul teaches in his letters. He makes it abundantly clear that the ox that treads out the corn is not to be muzzled. The ministry that labours in the word and doctrine is entitled to receive financial support.
Local elders are not as dependant financially because in most cases their families are off their hands, thus leaving them free to devote themselves fully to the service of the Body in whatever capacity God has called them.
Mobile Ministry need to have the confidence of the local congregation along with that of Holy Spirit sends them forth. They must know that they are being led by the Holy Spirit. The Lord always takes responsibility for those He sends. He is the source of every supply. Where He leads, He feeds. Having said that, there is another twist, because the real issue is not whether we have support from human agencies, but has God told you to go; if so then as Paul said, “Woe is me if I don’t go”.
1 Corinthians 9:16-18 RSV “For if I preach the gospel that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel.
But let it be very clear that the need never constitutes the call. The Lord’s personal call should always precede the work to be undertaken, only then is the supply guaranteed. Thus you will make it easy for yourself (and your wife and family) and for everyone else.
Regardless many will go ahead and make their own arrangements for their support; pleading their case is a special one, and end up going where they have no right to be.
A Maori brother told me that his denomination has never had a movement since it got the constipation; I think he was absolutely right.
WHAT JESUS DID NOT SAY
After withdrawing for all the right reasons from the PRS in 1990 Anne and I set about looking for a model that we felt must surely exist out there which we could embrace whole heartedly, without reservation.
I know now that such models do not exist, but on our journey we have found a lot of other brothers and sisters walking the same pathway, in loving union with the same Saviour who is bringing them and us into meaningful relationships first with Himself and others, as we seek to hear His voice and do His will. Psalm
Reading: Luke 2: 50, Jesus at 12 years of age. They did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.
John 4: 34-35 Jesus said to them, ‘My food is doing the will of him who sent me, and finishing the work he has given me. Don’t you say, “Four months more and then comes the harvest”? But I tell you to open your eyes and look at the fields — they are gleaming white, all ready for the harvest!’ This allegory Jesus used with them, but they did
not understand what he was saying to them.
John 10: 6, but they understood not the things that He spoke unto them.
John 21:17b-23, Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow
Then Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. . .
When Peter saw him he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’ Because of this the rumour spread that John would not die. But Jesus didn’t say that he wouldn’t die; he only said, ‘If
I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’
Acts 1:7-8 He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority but you shall be my witnesses.’
There were many times when Jesus’ followers misunderstood him.
Even worse, there is evidence that they developed their own beliefs, theories and practices around
their misunderstandings. Then they reinforced their errors by claiming that they were acting by His word and with His authority and blessing. Such claims have blighted the church in every period of history, including the present. We are all guilty of it to some extent.
After Peter had renewed his confession of love for Jesus, he became curious about what Jesus had in store for others, so he enquired about John. Jesus replied, ‘If John lives on until I come again, what business is that of yours?’ That was the fact. But it didn’t take long for the simple, direct word of Jesus to be woven into a theory about the second coming. The rumour spread that John would not die before Jesus came!
So when John was turning ninety, speculation grew, and rumours were rife, that the Lord was about to return. Some left their crops. Others neglected their families, left their jobs, and threw caution to the wind. So the Gospel writer felt it was high time to set the record straight. ‘Jesus did not say that John would not die,’ He said only that if John lives on until I come, ‘what business is that of yours?’
Some beliefs we hold may be held sincerely but that make them all the more damaging. Apartheid was upheld by many sincere people as a divinely ordained order for their particular society. So was prohibition. This kind of thing usually happens when Law is exalted above love, and doctrine above relationships, and orthodoxy is mistaken for faith. Christianity is not about speculation and theory. It is about loving relationship, obedience and real life.
One reason we go off on ‘tangents’ is because we are abysmally ignorant of the real issues. It may be done unwittingly but it side steps the call to ‘follow me’ and the costly demands on self to discipleship. We take a word of Jesus, and rationalize it to our satisfaction. In hindsight we can see what it has led to throughout history; clergy, creeds, institutions, inquisitions and the proliferation of cults. Each claims the authority of the divine word. So off they flew to Toronto, and Pensacola?
But Jesus relentlessly brings us back to the real issue, as he did with Peter. When the first disciples wanted to speculate about the time for the kingdom to come he said bluntly, It isn’t for you to worry about times and seasons. These are set by the Father’s control. Here’s the real issue — you are to be witnesses to me. Here, first, then beyond. We must not build on what Jesus didn’t say. We know what he did say to Peter, and what He said to Peter He says to all
of us, — ‘Follow me’!
May we not be subject to the herd mentality, but simply follow Christ and live by His principles, as witnesses in our community living all around us.
Lets enjoy the great flexibility we have in doing the things He calls us to do, and if it isn’t spectacular so
what? But if it has a measure of success, please stifle yourself from the temptation of making it a rule for others to live and work by.
God deliver us from compulsive critters.