Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
I wonder if Archippus was there when they read the letter. Was he on the proverbial fence as to whether he would fulfill his calling? Was he waiting on a word from the Lord? A lot of people are.
Here are the deets on Archippus. We have it on good evidence he was a preacher in Colossae. There’s pretty good evidence he went on to be the bishop of Laodicea. He is also referenced as a “fellow soldier” in Paul’s letter to Philemon (v. 2 NRSV).
So beyond that, what do we do with a verse like, “Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord'” (Col. 4:17)?
I’ve got an idea. Try this.
Tell [insert your name here]: “see to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
You have one, you know—a ministry. In the original Greek language, the word for ministry means, “to wait tables.” Think about the last time you were at a restaurant where a waiter or waitress served you. In the biblical sense of the term, they were ministering to you. Where in your life do you find yourself waiting tables as it relates to serving other people?
We are coming to the close of a period of church history where the general understanding has been that one had to be a minister (read, clergy) in order to have a ministry. Clergy did the “ministry” and the laity helped out around the edges where needed. This model still prevails in a lot of places, but it does not resemble the church envisioned by the New Testament.
You have a ministry. Maybe you’ve not understood it as such. Maybe you’ve thought of it as just doing good or doing the right thing or as a civic duty. What if it could be raised to the level of Jesus? What if that ordinary act of service, of waiting tables, could be charged with the energy of the Holy Spirit? The task would still be ordinary, but your touch would carry transformational power through doing it.
Maybe you have a ministry at the local assisted living center? Maybe your ministry is in your work as a lawyer or a doctor or a checker at Wal-Mart. Maybe your ministry is as a crossing guard at an elementary school. Maybe you have a ministry of being Santa Claus during the Christmas season. Perhaps your ministry is driving elderly people to the doctor who can’t drive themselves.
Whatever it might be, what would it mean to raise it to the level of Jesus? It would mean at least two things. First, it would mean lowering your stature in the sense of your willingness to take on lower and lower tasks. Second, it would mean raising the level of spiritual power in your service. You are responsible for the first step. Jesus will take care of the second. We see this marvelously at play when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet.
“See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord” (v. 17). It’s probably a good word we want to start speaking to each other too.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve. Give me fresh eyes to see the possibilities to minister to others “in the Lord.” We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- Have you ever thought of yourself as a minister? Why or why not?
- What is your ministry? How do you wait on tables?
- What might it look like for your ministry to be raised to the level of Jesus—to go lower in stature and higher in power?
For the Awakening,