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Today, we're focusing on the spiritual gift of apostleship.
When you hear "apostle" you might think of missionaries who travel overseas to spread the news of Christ to people who have never been exposed to the Gospel, and that is one way that people with the gift of apostleship live out their passion. But apostleship could just as easily be about spreading the good news to a different micro-culture within your community, maybe a different generation for example. Do you know someone who can genuinely share Jesus's message with people outside of their age, gender, or culture? They might have the gift of apostleship!
Here is how we define the gift of apostleship:
Apostleship is the missionary zeal that moves us from the familiar into uncharted territory to share the good news. Apostles embrace opportunities to learn foreign languages, visit other cultures, discover new micro-cultures, and go to places where people have not had the opportunity to hear the Christian message. The United States of America is fast becoming a mission field of many languages and micro-cultures. It is no longer necessary to cross an ocean to enter the mission field. Even across generations, we may find that we need to “speak other languages” just to communicate.
This gift moves us from the security of the local congregation into the unknown frontiers of the world to share the message of the gospel of Christ. Apostleship is the gift that instills missionary zeal in those who will go where the gospel is foreign or formerly unheard. Apostles are accepting and tolerant of cultural beliefs and practices counter to their own as means of meeting people where they are. Once defined as a gift that took us to foreign shores, apostleship today may mean relating to a different micro-culture or generation that exists in our own community.
A great example of an apostle from scripture is Junia. She is a partner with Paul and they are both imprisoned for spreading the Gospel. While Paul is in prison, he writes a letter mentioning Junia saying, "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was." (Romans 16:7)
Paul is one of the most well-known apostles for his willingness to venture into uncharted territories and share Jesus's messages. He is known for being tolerant and accepting of cultural traditions. He was one of the first to be in ministry alongside gentiles who were uncircumcised (which was seen as a major culture clash at the time), and expressed that he felt no need to change them because God shows no partiality. (Galatians 2:1-10).
Apostleship in Scripture:
"Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us— we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do." – Galatians 2:1-10 (NRSV)
"And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues." – 1 Corinthians 12:28 (NRSV)
"This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. I pray therefore that you[f] may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory." – Ephesians 3:1-13 (NRSV)