In the Office: Set Apart

When was the last time that you were in church and someone got “set apart” for ministry? And not just in an “institutional” way, like the commissioning of a mission team or the affirming of a student headed off to seminary (as important as those are). When was the last time that God’s Spirit moved in power; and in response, God’s people felt compelled to “set someone apart” for a kingdom assignment?

Today’s Daily Office includes a reading that has always challenged me. In the opening verses of Acts 13, we read:

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:2-3)

I dare say that if something like this happened it most of the churches of which I’ve been a member (including my present congregation), people would become – to use the precise theological expression – “seriously freaked out.” Of course, this might say something about the depth of our worship (or the lack of our fasting). But it might also say something about the impoverishment of our understanding of “call.”

Too often, I fear, we have restricted the notion of “calling” to those who serve as preachers and missionaries and church workers of various kinds. But I’m convinced that a more biblical picture urges us to see all believers as “called.” If you are a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit wants to “set apart” you for kingdom work. And I suspect that our worship would be more authentic (and more impactful) if we gathered in eager anticipation of those “callings” – and were then prepared to lay hands on people and send them off to their kingdom assignments in local schools, businesses, homes, and agencies.

What is the work to which the Spirit is calling you today? Please trust that you have been “set apart” for God’s purposes. And may your heart be compelled to worship as you discover that the kingdom is coming wherever you’re going.

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