There’s a curious little story in the book of Acts about a man who wanted to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit.
Simon was his name. Later, he was given the title of Simon the magician: Simon Magus. A lot of stories and traditions have built up around him, with the early church seeing him as the earliest, and greatest of heretics, distorting the Apostolic faith and presenting a Gospel that was not of Jesus. Read the passage for yourself in Acts 8:9-24.
Three wise men, Magi, visit Jesus giving gifts. This unwise man in Acts, Magus, doesn’t reject Jesus but wanted to co-opt him. He wanted to take the gift and use it for his own fame. He was powerful, he was popular, he filled stadiums and people bought his books. Jesus was a method for him to keep this up. That there was power, a Spirit, was even better. Let’s buy this power, he thought, get the authority through a transaction, and get even more popular.
Peter, filled with the Spirit, replied to Simon: “You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.”
“This” ministry is the ministry of God, the ministry of the Kingdom: Father, Son, Holy Spirit in the unified work of redemption and re-creation. Simon had a ministry, but not “this” ministry.
Having a ministry is still very common. A lot of debates develop over who can and who cannot be part of such a ministry. Men with power and authority make and enforce rules who can be in or who is out. Born of the right status, right gender, with the right privilege, with the right education, with the right culture or custom or… name your limitation.
This pattern of ministry, often in the name of Jesus, restricts as much as it has empowered:
This is your role.
This is your place.
This is your identity in Jesus.
The this of such limitations is not the expression of the ministry Peter was talking about. The ministry Peter was talking about was the ministry of the Spirit.
That’s why I don’t believe in men in ministry…