A few years back I attended a revival meeting where this preacher from California was talking. His primary message was one about ‘mantles.’ Have you all heard about mantles?
It is a principle pulled from story of Elijah and Elisha in 2 Kings 2. When God took Elijah up to heaven, Elijah’s mantle (or coat) fell to the ground. Elisha picked it up as a symbolic gesture saying that the ministry of Elijah was now his.
In Christian circles a lot of folks tend to look back and say, “I’m important because I studied under so-and-so” or “I’m important because I received so-and-so’s mantle.” I know folks who travel around the country trying get prayed over by certain super-star preachers because they want their mantles. They think that by having someone pray over them they can become someone special.
There are even preachers who go around offering to pray for folks to receive their mantle. The preacher I was listening to at that rival was doing just that. At first he told some stories of what God had done through him, which was pretty cool. Then at the end of his message he offered to ‘give away’ his mantle to those who wanted to do the same things that he was doing. Folks ran up to the stage to receive this guy’s mantle – it was like a rock concert!
I just stood there watching everything and saying “no, no, no!” to myself. I didn’t want this guy’s mantle or ministry. I wanted Jesus’ mantle and ministry. He was the one I was following, not this guy!
As I stood there surrounded by people, a stranger came up to me. He was a missionary from Argentina sent Idaho to plant a church among the Hispanic in the area. Touching my shoulder he asked if he could pray for me. While I responded in the affirmative, I didn’t tell him very much more… just that he could pray however he wanted to. The first words out of his mouth were that Jesus’ mantle would come upon me. It was amazing!!!
There I was – just a young man standing in a crowd a people and God sets a man from Argentina to echo the prayer of my heart! Talk about feeling loved by the Heavenly Father!
St. Paul and The Church in Galatia
The book of Galatians was the first letter St. Paul wrote (or, more appropriately, the first letter we know about) to the churches he started in the Asian Minor. The letter was written in response to some folks who were coming behind Paul telling the churches that the message of Paul was false. As you can imagine, Paul got pretty upset…not to mention “astonished” (verse 6) that the members of the church in Galatia would change their beliefs so quickly.
The folks who are trying to stir up trouble told the church members that they are the ‘true’ messengers from Jerusalem. They claim to have been sent by the ‘senior’ folks from the capital to straight folks out. St. Paul, according to them, was a nobody who watered down the message of Jesus. If folks really wanted to follow Jesus, they would have to be circumcised and take on all the outwards appearances of Judaism.
Paul’s response to these claims is quite amazing. Rather than claiming to have the mantle of the 12 Apostles or anyone else, he went straight to the top and said that the message of grace and freedom that he taught was directly from Jesus the King. He was carrying Jesus’ mantle/message, not his own or anybody else.
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:11-12)
The Mission of Jesus
Jesus came to declare that the rule and reign of God had come upon planet Earth. The Day of the Lord had come and humanity was now set free from sin, evil, death and destruction. When Paul heard this, his eyes were opened and the mission of Jesus because his mission:
…when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles… (Gal 1:15-16)
Everything in Paul’s life changed. He gave up everything – his standing in Jerusalem…his standing in the Jewish community…he became a traitor to his family who had invested tons of money in his education and life…he even became a traitor to his teachers, friends, everyone who he carried about….
But all that did not matter as he took upon himself the mission of Jesus
…that I [Paul] might preach him among the Gentiles…
This needs to be our heart, our mission as well. Jesus didn’t come and die so we could have nice pretty lives. Jesus came to bring about end of the world has we know it! Our lives should change when we meet Jesus. Our lives should start to reveal Jesus to everyone we meet
Our hearts should break for things that break His heart. We should cry when Jesus cries, rejoice when Jesus rejoices, offer mercy and grace where Jesus offers mercy and grace. We should be willing to give up everything to Him – even if it means looking like a fool or a traitor.
We are not to follow the way of the Vineyard, the AG, the Lutheran, or any Christian group. We are not to follow John Wimber, John Calvin, John Wesley or any of the big name preachers out there today. We are to follow the way of Jesus. Period.
We can learn from those who have gone before us. We can learn from the different Christian tribes and streams. But we follow Jesus!
We do not follow a message made up by humanity. We follow a living God who is actively involved in our lives. We are joining with God in changing the world around us.
The things around us are not as they should be, so we join God is changing them: offering forgiveness, mercy, grace…showing people a different way of life…actively fighting injustice…crucifying our pride so we can walk humbly with our God and each other.
We, in other words, take up Jesus’ mantle and walk after Him doing the things that He did/does.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ((Gal 3:26-28)