The term “apostolic” has been used in Christendom since the birth of the early Church. The concept and function of “apostles” are systematically found throughout the Old Testament. However, throughout the centuries and in church history, the term has come to take on different meanings.
In the late 80s and early 90s, there was a reemergence of the understanding of “apostles and prophets” and, along with it, there came varying definitions of the terms.
As with all things that are restored to and birthed in God’s People, there was and still is a resistance by established religious orders that fully rejected anything “apostolic” being active in the Church today. On the other hand, as is always the case, there were those who accepted the “apostolic” reformation and then began taking it to extremes, both by definition and function, which has not served the Body of Christ well.
Through the course of this series of posts, I will share both scriptural basis and personal experience to present, what I believe to be, a Christ-centered approach to understanding relevant, genuine apostolic function for today.
The purpose of this post is to simply provide a well-balanced understanding of what it truly means to be apostolic. While this post provides an excellent general overview, I delve into what it means for an individual to be apostolic in An Understanding of Apostolic Being.
I am extremely blessed. I am aware that there are apostles in the earth today and I am privileged to know and relate to a few of them. I am also blessed because I am in relationship with an “apostolic” people who live together in Kingdom communities. I will share more on that later. Today, I would like to present to you, perhaps the most clear, concise example that I have ever read regarding genuine apostolic ministry. These words come through a dear brother by the name of Brian Harrison.
What does the apostolic look like?
Recently Saeed Abedini, imprisoned for his faith in Iran’s notorious Even Prison, was told by his family of the many churches and people who are praying for him around the world. His response: “I am filled with great joy to know that the chains I am in have chained the body of Christ together and have united so many churches.”
Through this is one simple sentence, Saeed gave the church an example of what it means to speak apostolically. What makes it apostolic?
1. It’s heavenly and not earthly. In other words, it is spoken from an eternal perspective and not a temporary one. Saeed was not speaking from a temporary desire for personal comfort but from the eternal perspective of ultimate purpose. Saeed found comfort and indeed joy in discovering that his imprisonment was causing a unifying affect upon the church. When people begin to think “apostolically” they evaluate circumstances from the perspective of eternity. From an earthly perspective Saeed’s imprisonment is tragic and unjust. From an heavenly perspective, God is using Saeed’s suffering to do a work in the church.
2. Secondly, it is corporate and not personal. Saeed sees his life not as something individual and separate but as part of a global communion. What affects one, affects all. He is thinking about the global body of Christ and not just his personal needs. It is beyond himself. He is in partnership with God and though he is in chains, God’s word is not in chains and God’s work is advanced. Saeed’s imprisonment has resulted in a global prayer movement.
3. Third, it is sacrificial and not self-serving and therein emits the aroma of Christ. It reflects one who is giving his life as a living sacrifice. In the midst of suffering Saeed sees his personal circumstances in light of its positive effect upon the body of Christ. Rather than complaining of his poor treatment, he is focused upon the global impact. This is an apostolic look at suffering. It reminds one of the apostle Paul who said, “I want you to know that my imprisonment has turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Saeed’s suffering is releasing the aroma of Christ in Iran and throughout the body of Christ. This is truly what it means to live sacrificially.
4. Finally, it is authentic, not fabricated. It is a spontaneous expression from the heart. It’s not a sound bite. It is not a prepared statement. It is an authentic reaction given from a man who is suffering but whose life is given to a purpose beyond self-fulfillment. It comes out of a place of desperate suffering, coupled with cosmic awareness. Saeed was speaking from within his own heart and yet from the heavenlies at the same time. That is clearly the work of grace deeply woven into the heart of a man who has chosen to be willing to suffer “for the joy set before him.”
In a day and age where there is much being said about being apostolic that is more focused on one’s professional persona and success than on one’s faithfulness to the gospel and willingness to suffer, Saeed’s life speaks from a different dimension altogether.
This post originally appeared on Apostolic Alignment.