“And say to Archippus, ‘See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.'”
– Colossians 4:17
Every person who has been born again into the kingdom of Christ has been given a ministry that they are to fulfill. We are a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:3) and ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5). The mantle of “minister” in the Christian faith is not held only for those whose vocations are building up the body. Every follower of Christ is a minister filled with the Holy Spirit and ordained for a specific ministry in this life.
At the conclusion of his letter to the church in Colossae, the apostle Paul tells the believers, “say to Archippus, ‘See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.'” This is, I believe, a timely word for Christians today who, like Archippus, need a reminder of the ministry that they have been appointed to.
A Received Ministry
First we must note that this is a received ministry. Archippus didn’t appoint himself to it. He didn’t see a need and realize that he had the perfect skill set to meet that need. He didn’t demand a role. He didn’t take authority. Instead, he received his ministry as a gift from the Lord. Just like Paul mentions in 1 Timothy (and in most of his epistles), every ministry that a believer has is an appointment from their Lord. Whether it is a joyful or a painful ministry, a successful or a struggling ministry, an easy or a seemingly impossibly ministry, the ministry that God has called you to is where he will empower you. Don’t seek to go beyond the Lord’s appointed place until he calls you.
Ministry in the Lord
Secondly, Archippus’ (and our) ministry is in the Lord. All ministry, whether it be preaching, sweeping floors, working faithfully as an executive at Microsoft, or as an at-home parent, is a ministry to be done in the Lord. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2, we are saved by grace through faith. Then, and only then, do we proceed to “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we might walk in them.” Ministry is the natural outworking of grace within us, not the desperate upworking of faith. Anytime we minister “out of the Lord,” we will inevitably be burned out and fail, but when we labor from our position “in the Lord,” we will bear much fruit.
Brothers and sisters, we like Archippus and every other disciple of Christ, have received a ministry in the Lord. We are to bear witness of the truth of the Gospel and display in our day-to-day lives the surpassing glory of our savior. Are we fulfilling our ministry, or are we abdicating the Lord’s call for the sake of comfort, excusing ourselves with lack of understanding or experience? We are commanded by our king to make disciple as we go throughout this life. Can you point to specific places in your life where disciple-making is taking place? Let us be men and women who examine ourselves to see whether or not we are fulfilling the ministry we have received.
Ministry as Community
However, we must not stop with simply examining ourselves. Paul writes to the entire church at Colossae and tells them all the remind Archippus to fulfill his ministry. Like Archippus, we need a community of people around us who will regularly call us back to the path that the Lord has set before us. Are we as fellow workers in Christ reminding each other of our call? My prayer for Threshingfloor and for every body of believers is that we would become communities that encourage and empower each other for ministry. Rather than sarcasm, we must have sincere encouragement; rather than bitterness, ready forgiveness; rather than masks, total honesty. That is a truly powerful community.
As we become that I am convinced that God will do amazing things in our midst. When we as believers begin living in the ministries we have been called to in the Lord, our Lord will show himself to be mighty and begin to work wonders. For our small community here in Fargo, I have no doubt that if we each build our lives soundly upon Christ and allow his grace to move us in disciple-making we will be able to radically shift the 97% of non-believers in our metro area. I believe we will see communities of believers rise up across the city to bear powerful witness to the risen Christ, and that risen Christ will prove himself as we fulfill the ministries we have been given. Let us be faithful to do so, my friends. Our God will not fail us.