Friday, December 01, 2006

Biblical Roles: Apostles (Part 3)


“But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7)

Paul was not only a father to the churches, urging them on, but he was also a mother to them, tenderly caring for their condition. Paul’s care was not for the “church” but for the people of the “church”. Paul cared for them, not because it was his “job” but because he genuinely cared and loved them. Paul’s heart was bent towards them and he delighted when he was able to be with them. In his letter to the Romans he told them, “For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.” (Romans 1:11-12) And in his letter to the Philippians he said, “For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:8) Paul’s care for them flowed out of the love and affection he had for them in Christ Jesus.

Apostles have a mother’s heart for the people of God. Their concern for the churches is constant, even when they are absent. Paul write of his daily concern for the churches, “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?” (2 Corinthians 11:28-29) When absent, they bear the burden of concern. When present, they are gentle in their care.

Conflict Resolution

“I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.” (3 John 9-10)

There are times when, in the life of a church, things can go awry. Often this is the result of sin and pride, and most often it is sin and pride within the leadership of a church. Paul warned the elders of the church at Ephesus, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30) Notice that Paul told them that the wolves would arise from amongst the elders. Many times, the problems that can destroy a church are problems within the eldership. In times such as these, apostolic ministry can be a lifesaver to a church. It is times like these that apostles can step in and, with their authority in Christ, set things right and restore order to the church. “For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11)

David Robison

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