Acts 13:1-12: Set Apart for a Purpose

At our annual ordination and commissioning service, we are reminded that clergy are set apart for a specific ministry. A ministry in which, as John Wesley reminds us in his notes on Acts 13:1-12, we were ordained to do by God well before we knew we were called.

In our passage for this morning, Saul, who will be referred to as Paul for the remainder of the book, and Barnabas are set apart for their work to tell the Gentiles about the truth of Jesus Christ. They were set apart for the work of sharing with all about the depths of Jesus’ love for everyone and how salvation was available through faith in him. It was a work that they started doing when they went to Seleucia and Cyprus. Paul and Barnabas were committed to doing the work they were called and equipped to do.

We can read this passage and believe only a few are called to ministry. True, clergy are set apart for a specific task, but we are all set apart to participate in the church’s ministry. What this passage tells us is that Paul and Barnabas were equipped by the community and now set apart to do the work that they were called and prepared to do.

There is something for the church. Every person has a passion. Every person has a place to serve the church and share the message of Jesus Christ through our words, actions, and deeds. Every person is called to use their gifts and talents God has blessed them to encourage, to bless, and to serve others.

Some are set apart as clergy. Some are set apart as teachers. Some are set apart as administrators. Some are set apart as musicians. Some are set apart as so many other things. But, all are ordained to the ministry of the church through our baptism and faith in Jesus Christ. Our baptism is our participation in something bigger than ourselves and anoints us to be used by God to share the hope of Christ with others.

All of us have a purpose in life. For Paul and Barnabas, it was to serve as missionaries to the Gentiles. For me, it is to be a United Methodist pastor. For you, it might be something as equally holy and wonderful.

What has God called you to do? What are your passions? Where might you serve the church?

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