“It is not this way among you…”
So, you want to be an apostle? In our culture titles usually signify accomplishments or achievements through many years of dedication, sacrifice and perseverance. Doctors, judges, politicians and military rank are a few that come to mind. In our Christian culture today we often deem apostles as great leaders of churches or church movements around the world. Some religious sects believe there were only the original apostles in Jesus day and after they died there were no more. On the other hand, many self appointed apostles will shake your hand and give you a card that says “Apostle So and So” as they proceed to tell all kinds of stories that seem to insinuate how important they are. God bless them.
The dictionary defines apostle as “sent one.” It is my understanding that in the Roman conquest to acquire and rule the land, they found it necessary to assimilate the conquered people into the Roman culture. A means of maintaining order and control was changing the heathens mindset so they would totally adapt into the Roman culture. It reminds me of what the Babylon King did with Daniel and the boys. Everything needed to change, so the Roman authorities appointed officials and sent them throughout the conquered regions to establish the rule and reign of Rome. This was the root of the word “apostle,” the very word Jesus strategically used to describe the ones He chose to usher in a Kingdom culture on the earth. In writing to Corinth, the Apostle Paul gives us a clear path to identify true apostles.
For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.
(1 Corinthians 4:9-13)
If you are interested in becoming an apostle, I’ve extracted a set of job qualifications as follows:
1. Have you been put on display by God as men condemned to die?
2. Have you become a spectacle to the world, men and angels?
3. Are you a fool for Christ?
4. Are you weak?
5. Are you without honor?
6. Are you hungry and thirsty?
7. Are you poorly clothed?
8. Are you roughly treated?
9. Are you homeless?
10. Do you work extremely hard with your own hands?
11. Do you bless when you are criticized and abused?
12. Do you keep on going in spite of persecution?
13. Do you try to reconcile with the ones that lie about you?
14. Have you become as worthless scum of the world?
Pretty tough qualifications, wouldn’t you agree? For me, this brings to light scriptures like, “I’ve been crucified with Christ,” “Pick up your cross daily,” “Count the cost.” Being an apostle is definitely not as glamorous as some pretend it to be. Glorified “titles” seem to create a false identity that thrive on the accolades of men but miss the grace of God. However, a truly surrendered life receives praise from God. (Vs.5) Now, if you skip down to verse 16, Paul writes: “Therefore, I exhort you, be imitators of me.”
Wait! What??? That’s asking a lot Mr. Paul!
Jesus said it best as He gathered the ones He called apostles and related to them their true purpose and destiny.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
Just my opinion, but probably most true apostles are hidden. They probably avoid the lime light and would never consider taking on a title. Probably, these who quietly serve would not even consider themselves to be apostles. To love and to serve is in the fiber of their being and they do it naturally and genuinely. They expect nothing in return. Quietly and effectively the culture changes.
So shall it be. Peace to you.