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Priests From Among Men

God did not send angels to preach the saving gospel.
He chose sinners, saved by grace, to bring hope to the world.
It is important to remember that ministers come from common stock.
Otherwise, you are certain to become disillusioned with ministers.

By Ken Raggio

The United States of America was founded on a premise, articulated by Thomas Jefferson in the “Declaration of Independence,” that all men are created equal.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

The founding fathers argued in behalf of the rights of all individuals against what was then called, “The Divine Right of Kings.” At issue, of course, was the right of the original thirteen American colonies to declare their independence from the British Crown, and thus, the British Empire. We know the outcome. The King lost. Common men prevailed.

Abraham Lincoln invoked the “equal rights” argument against slavery in his “Gettysburg Address.” He referred to America as “a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” His aim was to abolish the inequities inherent in slavery.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”

I strongly believe that it would have been much more accurate to say that all men are created with equal rights, than to say that all men are created equal. This equality, so ardently defended by the founding fathers, could NOT have referred to an equality of talents, or skills, or physical attributes, or wealth, or political leverage, or any such thing. Anybody knows that we all are very different in all those respects.

I really don’t want to look like a fool for refuting the American Founding Fathers, but I really don't believe that all men are created equal. In fact, we are created very UN-equal.

Line up a hundred men, and you will see what I mean. You will find a wide variety of Intelligence Quotients and Scholastic Aptitudes. Privileged to underprivileged. Handsome to ugly. Tall to short. Fat to skinny. Rich to poor. Smart to dumb. The possibility exists that the smartest and the dumbest might not even be able to have a meaningful conversation.

Some are thinkers; some are not. While some men are able to reason within their minds, and formulate logical explanations for most basic life experiences, there are other men who seem incapable of comprehending anything as complex as a bank statement or a road map. In no way do I mean to be slanderous or judgmental with that statement. I am merely observing what I believe is an obvious fact.

Some people simply cannot comprehend great concepts. Is it not true that some people have a very low intelligence, which makes it very difficult for them to comprehend even basic concepts of God at all?

Certainly, not everyone who is alienated from the Gospel is so because of personal rebellion, hardness, or some other wicked intent. Many have come to investigate the Gospel message without so much as an inkling of where it would lead them. For some, their one rare visit to Church happened to fall on the day when the lesson about the ten-horned beast of Revelation, and all of its intricate typologies and apocalyptic insinuations, was being taught. In just a while, the poor soul sneaked out the back door while the preacher pleaded for him to recognize the urgency of the Middle East Crisis and the impending Mark of the Beast and some other enormous end-time crisis – about which, the poor visitor had not the remotest comprehension.

If the Gospel of Jesus Christ ever penetrates the various strata of society, the church will be forced to find rapport with an almost infinite spectrum of personalities and behaviors. The Gospel was not intended for only one kind of people; not just for middle-class Asians, or poor Indians, or rich white folks. The Gospel must not be limited in effectiveness to a certain intelligence range or cultural group.

So, Almighty God definitely considered this reality when first He began to select and ordain priests and ministers among men.

God chose His ministers from all strata of men. That is His solution.
Fill the ministry with ALL KINDS – the good, the bad, the ugly!

From ancient days, the Priesthood was taken from among ordinary men.

Paul explained to the Hebrews and to us that God, instead of revealing Himself to mankind by an audible voice, or a visible figure, or a tangible body, chose to reveal himself through MEN - men who were "taken from among men." God’s ministers/priests are of the very same stuff that they are required to minister to.

“For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.” Hebrews 5:1-3.

Men "who can have compassion on the ignorant," Paul interjected. Who can be more compassionate to the ignorant than one who has suffered his own ignorance.

Quite intentionally, God, incarnate in Christ, revealed Himself to a few ordinary men – twelve “ignorant and unlearned” disciples - and then left the entire gospel solely in their hands to communicate what they knew to all the rest of the world.

"Himself ALSO is compassed with infirmity.”

Every man of God is compassed with infirmity. He is a long way from a polished, flawless specimen. God’s man is pockmarked by mistakes, accidents and injuries. Certainly, those who are in leadership are expected to hold themselves to a higher standard of performance than the general populace, but notwithstanding, these men are still made of the SAME flawed material that all the rest of the populace is made of!

Both in Bible days and throughout history, God has always chosen priests, and preachers, and leaders from the same stock of people that they would be ministering to because He knew that every priest would have to refer to his own personal inadequacies every day as he attempted to minister to others who are similarly afflicted.

What is the profile of a particular community? Those who are in the ministry will appear to be a random cross-section of that profile. If, in a given community, there are 23 cancer cases out of 100,000 people, then you can expect a similar incidence of cancer among ministers. Are there rebel teenagers in the neighborhood? You may find rebel teens in some preachers’ homes, too. Are there thirteen divorces in a hundred marriages in your town? You may be surprised to discover that ministers’ marriages sometimes fail, too. If there are liars and cheats in the community, you should brace yourself for the reality that there is probably a similar ratio of liars and cheats occupying roles in the ministry. Does this negate the Gospel? Does this give us justification for rejecting the ministry? Absolutely not.

I am in NO WAY condoning any of these failures, or aberrations, or exceptions to good or right. I am only making the point that the RATIOS will not be significantly different, even though we would rightfully expect anyone in the ministry to make an above average effort to prevent or remedy problems of this kind, whereas the general populace might just ignore, overlook, or deny the failures.

It is evidently the intention of our Maker to have us ever mindful that no one of us is notably better than the other. A wise man said, "We are all ignorant. Some are just smart in certain areas."

Fault finding is a worthless occupation.

Where do we acquire the superiority to sit in judgment of another? Paul said, “I know NOTHING by myself. …He that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore, judge NOTHING before the time,” 1 Corinthians 4:4-5. He instructed Titus to “speak evil of no man,” Titus 3:2.

What on earth is easier to do than to find fault? Every one of us has fault, and it is everywhere to find. Have you accomplished anything noteworthy when you expose someone else’s faults? What if the magnifying glass or the search light was turned on you? Could you survive the unrestrained scrutiny you devour others with?

It only further proves our ignorance that we become so entwined in pulling splinters out of other people's eyes, when we have a beam in our own. Lest we forget, most of the greatest heroes of the Bible were very seriously flawed: Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and others. If we applied the same judgment to them that we apply to our contemporaries, we might soon abandon our faith altogether. But the better choice is to embrace the magnificent mercy and longsuffering of God and realize that “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

We should have mercy on one another, including our spiritual leaders.

Self-righteousness is one sin Jesus simply had no tolerance for. He spent His days in conflict with men who knew everything about everything, and never even tried to change their foolish minds. The Pharisees deluded themselves into believing that they were somehow far superior to everyone else. Jesus Christ found no use for self-justified men, and He called NO ONE into the offices of judge, jury or executioner. Instead, He commanded,

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,” Luke 6:37.

Every true saint and every true minister is equally a humble servant of Jesus. None of us can legitimately boast of superiority on every count. Surely, we were fearfully and wonderfully made, but that was through no genius of our own. We are the unworthy recipients of abundant mercy and pardon for mistakes and ignorant behavior we have committed all the days of our lives. God have mercy on us all.

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Ken Raggio

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