For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. Romans 12:4-6
I didn't think I would ever say it but, as of tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI and myself will have something in common. And if you're asking, "What is this common ground?" I can share that both of us will be retired.
When my wife heard about the pontiff's decision, she turned to me and said, "I didn't know a pope could retire." She can be forgiven for not knowing. The last pope who stepped down was Gregory XII, who served as pontiff 70 years before Martin Luther was born.
There have been others who have, as Canon Law decrees, resigned "from an ecclesiastical office for a just cause." Some resigned for a noble purpose. In that category could be put Gregory the XII, who resigned because he wished to put an end to division within the church. Others have stepped down under a cloud. Such a man was Marcellinus (296-304), who was deposed because he had, as the Roman Emperor Diocletian had ordered, made a sacrifice to idols.
So there you have it. Pastors, priests and popes are allowed to step away from the position in which they have been serving. Indeed, anyone can step down, if they feel God wants them somewhere else. I hope you noticed I didn't say they can step down because they don't want to do anything anymore.
The truth is God has a job for each of us to do. That job may change depending on situation and circumstance, but God, most certainly, has a job for you to do.
That's a pretty strong statement, and it's pretty all-inclusive. Even so, it is true.
I remember one lady in my congregation who was dying, for her death did not come swiftly or easily. The particular cancer she had was slow and caused a great amount of physical pain. Still, from a sick bed she recognized God had given her a job to do.
First, she wrote to her grandchildren. To those who were in the faith, she offered words of encouragement, and to those who had wandered away from Jesus, she encouraged their return. Second, she tried, as much as she was able, to offer a Christian witness to the doctors and nurses, who were caring for her. She felt her job was to be as good a patient as she could possibly be.
Eventually, the day came when the Savior took her home. Her work was finished. Can I tell you the results of that work? Three of her grandchildren told me how grandma's letter had brought them back to Jesus. And the hospital people ... if it had been possible, the hospital would have closed down for this Christian lady's funeral. As it was, only a skeleton crew remained on duty, while the rest of the staff came to the funeral to give thanks to God for a Christian woman, whose job had been to point them to Jesus. Their attendance said she had done that job well.
So, I don't know what job the Lord has in store for Benedict the XVI, and I don't know what work He has entrusted to you. But for me, I give thanks the work He has entrusted to me allows me to talk about Jesus with you.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, place me and use me in that place where I may serve You best. May my life be a witness to the wonders of the love and salvation I have received from Your Son. In His Name I pray it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries