We swore in almost 750 men, women, and children yesterday as ministers at the Central Church of Christ. Borrowing from the Gospel accounts of the feeding of the multitudes in which the disciples asked Jesus for a way to solve the problem and Jesus responded by telling his followers, “You give them something to eat,” we declared that everybody in our Lord’s Kingdom is a Christian minister. We are all priests, saved and sanctified by God to serve as powerful mediators between him and humanity.

As priests, we reflect the holiness of God. We are holy because God is holy. And that holiness will not be compromised or conditioned. We are set apart. We are ordained by God for his purposes and to his eternal praise.

As priests, we offer spiritual sacrifices to God. We give our bodies to God. We give our money to God. We submit our very lives to God so that everything we do and say and think is offered to him.

We intercede like priests. We grab our brothers and sisters and we take them to God in prayer. We bring them into God’s presence and intercede for their healing and forgiveness and blessings and peace.

And, as priests, we represent God before others. We bless people. We take what God has given us and we, in turn, give it to others. We graciously share his love and mercy, his comfort and forgiveness, to everyone we meet with his power and authority as his holy priests.

A lot of us, though, are paralyzed. We’re stuck. We see things that need to be done, but we wait on somebody else to do them. We know something’s wrong, but we count on somebody else to fix it. We hear that somebody’s hurting, but we wonder if it’s any of our business. We’re especially susceptible to this in a big church. We recognize a hole that needs to be plugged or a problem that needs to be solved or a brother who needs a visit, and we don’t do anything. And then we wonder why it didn’t get done.

We are all powerful priests in God’s sight. Nobody in God’s Church has more power or authority or more permission than anyone else. We’re all the same. We have different gifts, certainly. But we’re all called to serve. Nobody’s exempt. We’re all authorized to pray and teach. We’re all authorized to comfort and minister, to encourage and bless. We all have the same permission.

To drive the point home, we passed out 750 little sheriff’s badge stickers at the conclusion of our lesson, pinned them on one another, and we swore everybody in as ministers in God’s Church. We all stood and raised our right hands and recited these vows together out loud:

“I do solemnly swear as a faithful member of God’s royal priesthood to act like a priest. I promise to henceforth and forever more regard myself as a minister in God’s Church. I promise to honor and respect and love and cherish my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I promise to encourage and not tear down, to bless and not curse, to submit and to serve in compassion and kindness until Christ Jesus returns. As a minister and a priest in God’s Kingdom, this is my pledge as surely as the Lord shall live. Amen.”

With those gold stars pinned to our chests, we all looked like we belonged in a saloon scene in a corny old western movie. But when the words began coming out of our mouths, and the weight of our promises began to take hold, the worship center was transformed into a sacred place where we acknowledged the wisdom and power of our God who would dare to partner with us in his work of redeeming the world.