Friday, September 20, 2013


The Call

Nathan Bennett at Evangelical Outpost writes of his call top professional ministry:
I praise the servants of God who do not smother their earthly good in the sawdust of seminary or doctrinal decrepitude that holds back scientific experimentation and open inquiry in scientific domains. I praise the servants of God who do not merely sanitize and perpetuate genres of art and literature but improve the expression of God’s beauty and the beauty of his creation. There are times when I wish that God could have left me alone and not called me into ministry. I can find a life direction without too much help, and I like doing things that matter. God had his own reasons both for advancing his work in this world and for effecting my own salvation when he called me for ministry. When I went to a Christian university, I went through a classics program that left me with a love for goodness, truth, and beauty and a taste for all three at once. Perhaps the rigors of what God has called me to do will force me to integrate those things with efforts to expand the Church — and the expansion of the Church should be good, true, and beautiful. At the same time.

As invigorating as it can be to have a call from God, God’s call to ministry is a weighty and nearly unnatural obligation that runs against the way “normal life” is supposed to work. When Jesus said that you must be last when you want to be first, that means that you really have to be last. Sometimes God commands people to be last. If God has not called you to the ministry, why not break away from the theological-industrial complex? Why not dedicate yourself to a career that is intrinsically interesting to you rather than to a prepackaged professional ministry lifestyle just because you think it is interesting to God? Perhaps more people considering professional ministry should bind themselves never to enter professional ministry so that they force themselves to unite material betterment of this world with the spiritual betterment that we as Christians already know that it needs. Let us encourage talented Christians, instead of leaving technical fields for the ministry, to continue onward and upward in living life as God calls it to be lived rather than wasting their talents to maintain a megachurch.
Nathan is on to something really important here, but I think this post is subject tot he same problem that affects so much of modern Christian thought. Nathan writes of the individual, he fails to take the broader view. The reason so many people move to ministry when they ought to be "in the world" is that fail to see God's broader plan for the world. They perceive God in the church, but not in the world. It is not just a question, as Nathan puts it of:
...Christian publishers, Christian music labels and others of their ilk perform vital functions. The silver bullet argument against this very blog post: if you want patristic theologians’ writings to be available, somebody has to bind, print, and sell the books.
It is not a question of vitality or functionality. The world is God's. The victory Christ won makes it so.

When we work "int he world," we are working in God's kingdom, just as surely as if we are working in the church. The world may not know it yet, the world may not acknowledge that which it knows, but that does not change the fundamental fact that it is God's Kingdom. All work is God's work. Thus all work is in answer to God's call.

The picture is bigger than our call.


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