Servants of God have been subjected to vilification and mockery in recent times. They’ve been accused of impoverishing the church by using church offering and tithes for their personal gratification. As a result, they’ve been tagged as thieves, fraudsters and all sorts of unsavory names. Even though some Pastors have turned the church into a business entity where they sell miracles, it would be unfair to bundle all servants of God as thieves.
Usually, when servants of God are being accused of wrong doing, their followers quickly jump to their defense by making reference to 1 Chronicles 16:22 which says “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”. People usually interpret this as, a servant of God being sacrosanct and can’t be questioned by their followers when they go wrong.
In the midst of all the accusations being leveled against servants of God, have we paused to ask ourselves who they really are and the role they play in our lives as Christians? I believe a servant of God is anyone appointed by God to accomplish a heavenly mandate on earth.
In Matthew 10:14, Jesus told his disciples who can be called men of God to depart from the presence of anybody who doesn’t accommodate them and leave with their peace. The Hebrew transliteration for Peace is Shalom which means completeness, soundness, welfare. This means any servant ordained by God comes with completeness and brings that into our lives if we accommodate and value them.
Even though the Bible hasn’t explicitly outlined the importance of a servant of God in our lives, we can deduce their importance from a lot of instances.
Once upon a time, Elijah declared to Ahab that there shall not be dew nor rain in Gilead but according to his word. Since he too would be affected by this, God told him to leave Gilead and made him drink from a brook near the Jordan and caused a raven to feed him. After a while, the brook dried up and the raven stopped supplying food to Elijah. God then told him to go to a widow in Zarephath whom she had instructed to take care of him. Upon arrival, Elijah asked her to give him water and bread. The widow replied “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
Elijah replied “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first, make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
Sometime later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”
“Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”
Initially, I didn’t understand why a God who makes water flow in a desert would allow Elijah’s source of water to dry up and shut down his food supply. God being all knowing knew there was a poor widow with an innocent kid about to die due to insufficient food. In order to save their lives and sustain them, he had to use a man of God who is an embodiment of welfare to save them.
One day, Elijah’s successor, Elisha returned to Gilgal where there was famine. While in the company of prophets, he told one of his servants to prepare stew for the prophets. The servant went out and gathered some herbs and many gourds from a wild vine to prepare the delicacy. As the prophets began to eat, one of them shouted: “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.
It’s interesting to note that, Prophets who are expected to have foreknowledge about occurrences couldn’t detect poison in their food. It still beats my imagination how Elisha who was their leader knew just a simple flour could nullify the poison.
One day, Amalek went to battle with Israel. Moses who was a man of God told Joshua to assemble men to go to battle. He then said, “Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand”. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
One can deduce from all these instances that, servants ordained by God have been given the capacity to sustain us in times of need, give us direction in times of danger, and be at the forefront to fight our spiritual battles for us.
In the midst of the vilification of men of God, we have to come to the realization that, there’s something special about them which is the shalom (completeness, soundness, welfare). That’s what separates men of God from other Christians and we can never take it away from them. Even though the Israelites had strong men who went to battle with the Amalekites, Moses was the only one who possessed the rod of God which he deployed to grant them victory. Apart from spreading the Gospel of Christ, servants of God have been positioned in the life of Christian for their welfare (Physically and Spiritually). The only way we as Christians can be a beneficiary of the shalom God has given them is to submit ourselves to them and value them. If the widow in Zarephath had driven Elijah who was a total stranger away, she would have died with her son. Her jar of flour and jug of oil never run out for 3 years until it rained just as Elijah said. When the prophets who were equally men of God encountered a poisoned food, they called on Elisha to come to their rescue which he did. They would have eaten the poisoned food and died because there was already famine.
Christians shouldn’t be blinded by the whims and caprices of some deluded servants of God and deprive themselves of the “Shalom” God has placed on their life. No matter our opinion about servants of God one thing we cannot take away from them is “They’d always have the distinct Shalom which we’d never have”.