I think that it is critical for the American Church to begin to remember and embrace the fact that the priestly, apostolic, and pastoral vocations are not commissioned by theology degrees but by the very person of Jesus Himself. We are a kingdom of priests not a select few priests who have graduated and been approved under institutional programs. Many pastors among the Chinese house churches speak of going to prison for their faith as going to the “seminary of the Holy Spirit”. God Himself teaches these simple believers and they are bearing much fruit. Richard Wurmbrand shares this story from his time in a Communist prison, locked in a cell with only “priests” meaning, anyone with any official or unofficial religious affiliation: “Pastor Weingartner told us of a simple personality test he had learned while studying psychology: you drew a line down the center of a card, then asked people to make of it the first thing that come into their heads. We used a soaped board and a nail. One man drew a sword, another a helmet, others a flower, a crucifix, a book, a geometric figure…Not one in ten of us showed in our drawings the touch of spirituality that is at the heart of a priestly nature. Weingartner laughed. “No wonder they wouldn’t let me try it at the seminary! Perhaps we should all make shoes—for it is the shoemaker among us who seems to have a truly spiritual character.” He referred to Gelu, a sectarian believer who had a great knowledge of the Bible. This seemed to irritate Daianu (a poet and professor of Mystical Theology). “My dear man,” he said, “if you want to tell us about shoes and how to mend them, well and good. But you are among men here who possess theological degrees from the great universities of Europe and need no Bible classes.” “You are right, professor,” replied Gelu. “It is I who need instruction. Could you tell me what the Old Testament Book of Habakkuk is about?” “A very minor prophet,” said Daianu. “Don’t worry your head about him.” “Well, then, the Book of Obadiah?” Obadiah was another prophet whom shoemakers did not need to know. “Perhaps you call tell me about Haggai?” Daianu could not. There was not a theologian in the room who could muster three sentences on the subject. Gelu astonished us by quoting whole chapters from these prophets by heart. The clergy studied books about the Bible rather than the Holy Scriptures themselves…” (Excerpt from In God’s Underground)
The confirmation of our calling as Christians to be teachers, preachers, prophets, priests, etc. does not come from men, but from the Holy Spirit. Look at the fruit and you will see what kind of tree is in front of you. We in the West need to stop looking at our institutions to lead us into the future of the Church. We need to start looking to the Holy Spirit and we need to start learning from and supporting those who are producing the fruit. What if, instead of encouraging young believers to attend seminary, we encouraged them to read their Bibles often and memorize scripture? What if we taught them to fast and to pray and then to do what the Holy Spirit leads them to do? I think we would begin to see amazing things happen and the Church in America would grow. May you hear God’s calling on your life today and may you walk in the courage and faith needed to see it fulfilled. Your calling, commissioning and support come from God, so do not wait any longer but enter into the school of the Holy Spirit, read the Bible, pray and bear fruit!