Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Timothy our brother:
To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae.
Paul is an apostle…by God’s will. He didn’t choose this for himself. God appointed him to specific service. An apostle is a delegate or messenger. Someone who is an apostle has a specific function – that person is chosen by Christ to be His ambassador.
Notice also that Paul doesn’t identify himself as a believer by God’s will. Trusting Christ for eternal life is something that Paul chose to do; however, the work we do in God’s family is something that God chooses for us.
There are many examples of God choosing both groups of people and individuals for specific service to Him. Moses told the Israelites:
For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord you God has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.
Even then, from among the Israelites, God chose the Levites to serve as His priests. God also chose individuals who would be the leaders, judges, prophets, and kings for the nation. Some served faithfully (Joshua, David) but others struggled in their appointed positions (Samson, Jonah). Even though none of them were perfect, each person God chose had a specific responsibility toward the people. They were to aid the people in fulfilling God’s desired purpose for the nation of Israel:
Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.
When the nation of Israel was in right relationship with God, they became a shining example to the rest of the world. The groups and individuals which God chose for specific service were to help guide the nation toward this end.
Paul sees his apostleship in the same light. He also sees that Jesus calls others in the church family to specific kinds of service:
And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son
We all have our roles, and Paul is doing his part. As an apostle, he has specific insight from God to share with those in Colossae – which we can also benefit from as we read his letter.
Whether you find your calling in the list above, or you are one of the saints being trained in the work of ministry, God has work for us to do. By God’s will, some of us work to build up the body and some of us work to minister to those outside of the body. Either way, we have the opportunity to partner with the Creator of Everything in His most important mission.
Do you know what service you are called to? If not, ask God to show you. His answer might surprise you…but you can trust that He knows where you belong.