I'll Make You a Better Offer

for the week of October 8, 2001
by Rubel Shelly

I was fortunate (?) enough to be on somebody's e-mail spam list that got me the following offer: "Minister C------ S------ has the power to make you a legally ordained minister within 48 hours. Be ordained now! As a minister, you will be authorized to perform the rites and ceremonies of the church."

I'll admit that my reaction was neither a quick response to send $29.95 for my printed-in-color-with-gold-seal certificate nor a wry smile. It was a flush of anger. Bogus credentials for bogus deeds isn't a new idea. You've probably seen the university "diploma" you can buy without reading a book or taking an exam. Why, even Fido can be a Ph.D. with a program like that!

U.S. News & World Report did an article several years ago on people who were on school faculties and hospital staffs by virtue of mail-order credentials. For myself, I don't see it as funny at all. It is lying. In some cases, it is fraudulent. And it is dangerous to innocent people who trust imposters with fake papers.

After I got over my temper fit, it occurred to me that I could make people a better deal than "Minister C.S." was offering. And there will be no $29.95 charge.

Let me hasten to add, however, that the offer I'm about to make you has nothing to do with dodging taxes or taking advantage of people. It is absolutely legitimate both in the eyes of God and before his human creatures.

I call you to the priesthood of all believers which Jesus Christ has entrusted with his authority to bless one another. Peter gave the same charge in these words: "Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5).

What shall we undertake as ministry to one another in the workplace, in our homes, or in churches? Here are some things Peter suggested to his original readers: pray, care about each other, be forgiving, show hospitality, and minister to one another with whatever gifts God has given you (1 Peter 4:7-11).

Someone in the sphere of your presence today will need a minister. He will need a friend. She will need someone to pay attention to her grief. They will need someone to pray with them about a troubled child or fragile marriage. All these things are authentic Christian ministry and require no framed certificate.

Welcome to the ministry. Be ready. Your first assignment is on the way.

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