|The Super-Duper Apostles|
|The word "credentials"
comes from the Latin "credere", meaning "to believe, to trust, to entrust."
Because these days we hear the ministry talking about their credentials
(as in "my credentials are held at the such-and-such church"), it should
be instructive to see how the Apostle Paul viewed his credentials.
First, he did not go up to Jerusalem to seek his credentials, but instead went to Arabia and Damascus for three years (Galatians 1:17-19). He says he was approved "by God" to be "entrusted with the Gospel" (I Thessalonians 2:4 NKJV). Remember that one of the definitions of "credere" is "to be entrusted."
He says further in verse 4 that he didn't speak to please men but God, and neither did they seek glory from men (verse 6).
When being accused by the false "super apostles" (II Corinthians 12:11 NIV), he defended his apostleship by the things he suffered. He worked harder, suffered more whippings and beatings, spent more years in prison, was shipwrecked, robbed, went hungry, cold and naked, and was stoned and left for dead. (II Corinthians 11:23-27).
He claimed his credentials based on his deep care for the brethren. "Who is weak and I am not weak?," he wrote to the Corinthians (II Corinthians 11:28-29). He suffered and did not run as a hireling would.
His credentials were based on the visions he saw when he was caught up into the third heaven (II Corinthians 12:1-5). And then he lists what the signs of an apostle are: "The things that mark an apostle--signs, wonders and miracles--were done among you with great perseverance." (II Corinthians 12:12-13 NIV). Without these signs, the Corinthians could rest assured that their "super apostles" weren't so super after all.
A passage in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians gives us further insight into what was important to Paul. In the ninth chapter (verse 2) he called the Corinthians the "seal" of his apostleship. The margin tells us that an alternative reading of this word is "certification." We can liken this type of seal to a notary seal--the Corinthians themselves were his certification; they were his proof; they were his credentials (if you will) that he was an apostle. It was by the fruits he produced and the things he suffered that he gained the moral authority to be recognized as an apostle.
The conclusion of the matter for you and for me is this: Those who would be servants have no right to expect a life of privilege. They will sacrifice more and suffer worse than those whom they serve. Indeed this is what made Christianity attractive throughout the centuries. If one is willing to die for one's beliefs, maybe there is something to this Jesus stuff after all!
Excerpted from The Sabbath Morning
Companion, December 16, 2003, by Lenny Cacchio.