Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Short answer: yes, from the get-go.
That is to say, if you are a born-again believer, the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, has already “officiated,” so to speak, at your commissioning, or will, for all those who choose to follow Him, although likely in a vastly different fashion than many might think and believe is required.
For the most well-known kind of ministry send-off, as it were, you might tend to think getting a Church “commission” is something rare and reserved for select few. The occasion often resembles the following.
First, there may be an announcement in the Church bulletin (but not always) that Brother Who and his wife will be taking off for The Hinterlands, or maybe just stepping into some leadership role somewhere else in First Bapticostal Faith Assembly. It might read as follows:
Congregants are invited to join the leadership team in the sanctuary after the 10:00 service next Sunday to pray and prophesy over Walter and Sally Who as they begin their new commission for Christ. A love offering for the Who’s will be taken at a reception in the Church hall, following…
On the day of, after the closing hymn, the entire leadership team will assemble up front behind the pastor. Family and friends might be invited up as well. A hush comes over the crowd (well, probably not really a hush, it just seems like the next element of such a formal and exciting event).
After a few comments about silencing cell phones and refraining from selfies during the send-off, Pastor and perhaps one or two other high-rankers will summarize the key points of what has led the Who’s to this momentous occasion, with prayers and prophesies rendered by appointed leaders, special pray-ers, and one or two vetted “prophets” to seal the occasion.
Before cake and punch in the Hall, congregants will be invited to sign up for the ministry’s first newsletters, to support the couple in prayer and by financial donations while being assured the ministry will have a full report next year when Walter and Sally (and maybe by then a new little Who, too) are on furlough from the field…
In the institutional religious system in which I was raised, this kind of occasion took on far more pomp and circumstance. Mostly pomp. I refer to the Roman Catholic system, where in order to enter an “order” of service, aka, “Institutes of Consecrated Life,” of which there are various and sundry on the hierarchy, one had to nearly sign one’s life away, climb several rungs on a qualifying ladder (some education, some “trials and runs,” some other things) and agree to don special clothing (“habits”) and/or jewelry (rings, pins, crucifixes, etc.) to signify one’s spiritual and temporal status, aka, “vocation”.
As I recall, on such occasions when we little Catholic school kids might be corralled for the choir, there was also plenty of thick, “perfumey” incense and the officiant was decked out in the most beautiful, sparkly robes…or so a kid might have thought…
Meanwhile, back in the pews (in any denomination) of the non-commissioned (at least in this context) unspoken doubt enters that feels like this: only for the few, the educated, the inner-circle… Either that, or, particularly in the case of some little kid corralled in the choir: “Jeesh! WHEN will this be over! I want some cake and punch!”
Despite the glamour and the glory of how the institutional Church goes about commissioning its VIPs (with the best of intentions and practical considerations, no doubt), I fear that the remaining 99.9% of us do not realize Jesus, Himself, “officiates” at our own “send off” as well, on the occasion of our commitment to follow Him in His service, whether the event occurs in some brick and mortar church as described above or in the quiet and obscurity of some revelatory moment in our home or place of work or small Bible study when the Holy Spirit draws us to that “oneness in Christ” that is the true beginning of all commissions.
A few ministries may lead to the conventional send off, above, perhaps even after Bible college training; many others (all, in actuality) will begin “in the moment” as relationships with family, friends, and/or co-workers take on whole new meaning in the context of our position, now, in the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God.
Still other commissions may first require healing and recovery from whatever and/or whomever may have been determined to obstruct our forward movement in some way, perhaps even some supernatural opposition such as Daniel experienced that detained the answer to his prayers for a length of time.
So, back to the short answer of “Yes, you already have been commissioned,” each of us as born-again, Spirit-filled believers dedicated to following Jesus Christ is “sent off” in customized (matching our station in life) if not conventional, ways.
None, to the last pew, is left behind, Bible College degree or lack thereof, age, gender, position in any institutional “inner circle,” etc., notwithstanding.
And here’s the whole point of my post, today: we must understand this so that in the treacherous days in which we live (even many non-believers fear what’s coming), we have the assurance that we, too, have the support of the only Church Head who truly counts: Jesus Christ, external trappings notwithstanding, and He has promised to never leave nor forsake us, no matter the actions–or inactions–of anyone else or any institution.
JESUS’ COMMISSIONS THEN–AND TODAY
As an example of how Jesus sent them off (in two’s) while He was yet on earth, consider the following occasion, manner, and advice, and consider the corollary for today,
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. 2 And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. 3 Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no money belt, no [b]bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. 8 Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’10 But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city. (Luke 10:1-12, NASB)
Then: when, as chronicled in the verse, above, Jesus sent the “seventy others”.
Today: each time a born-again believer says, “send me, Lord,” wherever and whenever, and seeks the specifics.
Then: By Jesus’ words “in the flesh”.
Today: by His Word “in the text”: 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 [a]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you [b]always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 18:18-20, NASB).*
NOTE: the supernatural components of a believer’s ministry were chronicled later, as well, as part of the Day of Pentecost, when, filled with “power from on high,” the Holy Spirit (a gift Jesus sent us after He ascended back to the throne room and for which He petitioned God), the first Christians also operated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit (most notably speaking/preaching in “other tongues”). See Acts chapter 1, verse 8, and Acts, chapter 19. I have linked to the interlinear version of these verses so the reader may explore the original language as well as the English translations.**
Both then and today:
- Don’t leave home alone.
- Go ahead of where Jesus is headed (a kind of John the Baptist ministry…laying some groundwork for when Jesus arrives on the scene…planting some seed…maybe watering some other seed…)
- Pray for more laborers in the harvest field.
- Keep in mind: wolves.
- Carry no money, no bag, nor shoes (and no 85 million dollar jets and $850 Prada pumps, presumably, today, read this as you will).
- Speak to no one (play your cards close, as it were…remember: wolves).
- Upon entering a house, extend your peace, first.
- If a man of peace is there, your offering will remain. If not, understand that you will get it back (his anger, if you will, need not negate your peace).
- Accept what offerings/food given you (your ministry is worth it).
- Don’t keep moving from house to house (the inhabitants may have a lot of follow up questions, there may be a lot of work, there, for you to do. Maybe they’ll invite all the relatives over…)
- Do the same in whole cities.
- Heal the sick.
- Tell them “the kingdom of God has come near you” (signed and sealed…delivery via the Holy Spirit when the recipient opens the door to Jesus, Who waits just outside).
- That said, if there is no peace returned to you, in today’s vernacular “social-media this” and remind the scoffers that you told them about the Kingdom of God being near and even provided demonstrations…
BUT, WAIT! HEAL THE SICK?
Isn’t that kind of ministry just for the Pastor and the elders and the “called”?
Consider also these words of Jesus:
And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16:17-18, NKJV).
I can’t add to that.
But how is this done by the “ordinary believer”?
First, understand that here is no such thing as gradations or hierarchies of believers, i.e., “ordinary,” “semi-extraordinary,” and “extraordinary”. (Or in the Church of my youth, literally dozens of gradations above the rank and file.)
In Christ Jesus, back to the Owner’s Manual, we are all “new creatures,” all are extraordinary, as in, well, “new creatures,” called, and commissioned.
For a more practical, how-to answer, refer again to **.
Then, with all the encouragement I can muster as one called to BE and encourager in the Body of Christ, I invite you to carry on in peace and in power, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
So carry on, fellow saints, whatever your unique commission, even as Jesus “carries on for you”!
*Some believe he was talking only to the eleven Apostles then still alive (Judas having previously perished at his own hand). However, if this commission is to continue “to the end of the age,” obviously more people will have to be involved, read you and me, as believers today.
**For those who have yet to explore the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, there is a plethora of educational/informational venues on this topic. On this site, see several contributions, here: https://pnissila.wordpress.com/category/baptism-in-the-holy-spirit/ that also include references to some of the outside, including scholarly, sources.