Commenting on his own lack of ordination, and the futility of most modern ordination practices, Charles Haddon Spurgeon once rather famously said —
“Now, it was no doubt the custom to lay on hands at the ordination of Christian ministers by the apostles, and there was an excellent reason for it, for gifts were thereby conveyed to the ordained, and when we can find anybody who can thereby confer some spiritual gift upon us, we shall be glad to have their hands laid on our heads; but empty hands we care not for. Rites cease when their meaning ceases. If practiced any longer they gender to superstition, and are fit instruments of priestcraft. The upholding of the hands of the eldership, when they give their vote to elect a man to the pastorate, is a sensible proceeding, and is, I suspect, all the apostle means when he speaks of the presbytery; but empty hands it seems to me are fitly laid on empty heads, and to submit to an empty ceremony is the idlest of all idle waste of time.” (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. 1872. Vol. XVIII)
And this is one of those places where Charles and I disagree. Ordination was important in the New Testament and it’s important today. It’s part of the process of setting particular people apart for the work of the ministry — for prayer, study in the word, teaching, and shepherding the flock of God. (Acts 6:4, 1Peter 5:2, Titus 1:5-8)
Personally, I believe that ordination is simply the church’s reaction to what God has already ordained and made obvious. When He separates someone and places them in to His service, He gives them the gifts that are necessary for the work. When the church recognizes that God has gifted someone with the abilities necessary for the work, ordination takes place.
Anyway … why is this on my mind today, of all days? Well, it’s Cinco de Mayo — May 5 — the anniversary of my ordination into the ministry. It was fifteen years ago today that Elders David Morris and D.J. Ward laid hands on my head, prayed over me, and charged me with the work I have been doing ever since. And every year, on this calendar date, I watch the video of my ordination and remember the words that were said over me.
I have always held the concept of ordination in high esteem, ever since my early Lutheran days. So much so that I turned down earlier ordination opportunities, waiting until I was convinced that it was the proper time and that I was being ordained by men with whom I had full agreement. And, by God’s good providence, He introduced me to just such men.
The year after I was ordained we got our building and GCA became a public church. June 5 will be our 14th anniversary. As the time has ticked by, we’ve seen God’s provision at every turn. And today we are as healthy a church as I have ever known.
So, today I pause, reflect, and thank God for His remarkable faithfulness. I could not have orchestrated the events of the last fifteen years. They’ve been marked by great heights and crushing lows. But, He has carried me, without fail, through them all. And not a day passes that I am not reminded of the responsibility that comes with the title “ordained elder.” But I am equally reminded of the strength and unerring love of the God who marked me out for this work.
To God — and God alone — belongs the kingdom, and the power, and glory forever and ever. Amen.