What do you look for in a priest?

In the book of Acts, we read how the Lord was adding to the numbers of the church daily, those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47).  As a result, the Apostles (who while disciples of Jesus had been serving people as they came to the Lord, realized that they needed to have some help.

In Acts 6:2 we read how “the Twelve summons all the disciples and said, “It is unacceptable for us to neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Therefore brothers, select from among you seven men confirmed to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will appoint this responsibility to them and we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word”.

The disciples didn’t just come up with this idea on their own.  They weren’t trying to use their position in order to delegate the “hard work” to others while they enjoyed a comfy life of ease.  Rather, they were realizing the importance of their role in the body of Christ.  As Paul would later write: “In the church, God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, those with gifts of healing, helping, administration, and various tongues”.  They realized what their role was in the body and that they needed to fulfill the apostolic role that they’d been given and let other deal with the administration and helping.

This is how God has always intended things to be.  In Malachi 2:7 the Lord Himself had said as much.  “For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts” (ESV).  As the Apostles took on their new role as head of the church, they realized that their calling had changed.  True, there was a time when, during Jesus’ feeding of the 4000 and during the feeding of the 5000 (and who knows how many other miracles), they had been the ones serving tables.  Now, it was necessary for them to serve in the role of “priest”.  Now, they were the one’s whose lips needed to “guard knowledge” and they were the ones from whom the people should be seeking instruction, even as they sought to make disciples by teaching them to observe all that Christ had commanded them (Matthew 28:19-20).

This background relates directly to the question this article raises:  What do you look for in a priest?  In today’s world, it often seems to pastors that people want a charismatic person who keeps everyone happy; who is funny and entertaining and attends all the ballgames with the kids; and who has all the answers that people were just hoping to hear.  But what should you really look for in a priest?  What does the Lord your God want you to seek from him?

As the scriptures says, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever”.  His Word endures forever and therefore, what He spoke to the prophet Malachi, still applies today.  The lips of a priest should guard knowledge and people should seek instruction from his lips.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, the Apostle Paul praises the people of Thessalonica because, when they received the Word of God that they heard from him and his companions, they accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually was: the word of God which was indeed at work in them who believed.  Things haven’t changed.  There’s only one way that God works in your to will and to work according to His Word (Phil 2:13).  There is only one way that you are transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).  There is only one voice which says to you “this is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).  This is through the Word of God that comes through the mouth of your priest.

This is what you should seek.  It’s what God wants you to seek.  It’s why He continues to give His church ministers for the ministry.  You, like the Thessalonians, should be seeking that which is at work in  you and which is the very Word of God.  This is the way that you might walk in it and there is no other way to salvation.  Thank God for the gifts He so faithfully gives!  May you find the blessing that He has intended for you, though it defy all earthly and worldly expectations.  May God grant it to you through the lips of your priest.  Amen.