Most of those who read this are going to be familiar with Christian teachings, and following such philosophies as well. Coming from this mindset, there is an understanding that those who call themself Christian are asked to produce the evidence of this in some way. The understanding may be only, however, that there is SOME way that the fact of one's 'Christianity' is going to become evident. From there a number of opinions bubble to the surface--- some arising from things Christ said himself and others coming from (seriously) God knows where. I'll be the first to tell you that not everything you see in a church has anything to do with Christ.... in any institution representing something higher there is an amount of 'noise' created by human short comings, confusion and... all manner of what nots. Example... Higher concept: Stable Government Noise: Politics and parties. The noise, however, is a tagnent for the purposes of this 'musing' of mine (not really an essay nor an article but a think session) . The noise of Religion is one excuse that non-Religious people use as an excuse to deny any sense of spirituality... which to me is like denying that you have a body because you're dissatisfied with healthcare or have been mistreated by a hospital.
Get in line... hospitals have screwed me over....... and 'churches' have done that to people too. It's not God's fault we screw up church any more than it's Hippocrates's fault health care is messed up. The primary difference between issues of health care and those of spiritual care is that we as citizens are not really part of the hospital/clinic system anyway. As Christians we are actually part of *tada* Christ's church. [God... I know you're in here... I hope I'm doing this right...] Though that seemed like a tangent to me at first... I think its a useful illustration. "I'm not a doctor or nurse... what the heck do I have to do with health-care?" Well... probably nothing. Society picks these people--- doctors, nurses, specialists--- along strict categorical lines. It's relatively rigid compared to the actual people who fulfill these roles and are complex human beings. But, though religions might be man-made attempts at spiritual institutions (and the best we got, ladies and gents), the actual spiritual realm itself is NOT a man-made institution---- that's God made and operates according to the rules of his infinity.
An actual thesis: I belive pretty firmly that God does not determine your role based on strict categorical lines. Let's not limit Him that way... God is not binary like that. He doesn't say "Minister here... Lay-person over there".
Let's back this up a little--- where the heck have I been all this time? I'm noticeably missing from LiveJournal, but especially from this lounge. This is explainable in part by the recognition, on my part, of what I would show by emptying my thoughts here. I would show that I was called by God and He had a role for me. I've known this for some time. I'm also not stupid--- that means responsibility. Like any man, I'm going to gravitate toward ways of showing my 'Christianity' that seem comfortable for me. In other words, I'm a victum of the 'current' as I call it. I don't even totally understand it myself, so I won't even try. The current is the way we drift when we know that going against the current is more rewarding but takes effort. The truth about life might be against the current (if you'll excuse my important tangent). That doesn't mean that dissenters are the future, or conservatives either... that means that people who pride themselves on being 'liberal' are just following that current and conservatives another. Either way, they're doing what's become comfortable for them and not really reaching for truth. Sorry, habitual liberals. If it makes you feel any better, I think you're closer than the habitual conservatives (personal opinion). (tangent concluded...)
The point is, we have this natural tendency. I would have rather maintained the very loose personna that I'd adopted coming out of highschool. That meant not coming here and revealing to everyone that deep inside of me was someone who thought deep thoughts about spirituality and had opinions and... really shouldn't be so messed up. To be brief, I'd done a good job of lowering the bar for myself and I wasn't about to get in here and raise the bar up. I used the excuse of not wanting to make anyone feel like they didn't have a right to this space. I watched the space go unused though--- I didn't do anything to stimulate discussion. I didn't poke Alex about starting discussion either *jabs Alex*. This group is, perhaps, just one example, but a particularly good one for me... all things considered. This is the place where I should have shown evidence not just of Christianity but of discipleship: acting according not only to general principles but a distinctive call into God's service. (wow... that's a brand new definition... but I like it awfully well!!!) Lemme try this... and these are not supposed to read like truth, but see if they ring true:
Christianity: Behaving according to what Jesus told all of us.
Discipleship: Behaving according to what the Holy Spirit is telling YOU.
Challenge: people frequently will justify their own drift over what the Spirit is telling them... hence, I find myself on another important tangent (which I need to badger myself about) which is the notion of spiritual discipline. There's a lot of noise in our own heads... and prayer and study are the key to getting the garbage out of the way.
However, I meant to approach an important escape strategy we use to ignore the urgings of the Spirit: a binary model of ministry. *hiss* Oh you know what I mean--- clergy over here and lay-people over there. The pastor is supposed to fit neatly into a particular personna and the rest of us are just people who do whatever we want because... we're just normal people. This has very little to do with the priesthood Jesus laid out... because Jesus never laid one out at all!!! When he gathered up the most educated religious leaders he... no... actually he didn't do that. He went and got some FISHERMAN and taught them about what it meant to live the followers life. Infact, Jesus did more to THROW DOWN a binary structure of ministry than support it. The temple curtain was torn, folks. Ministry is not binary--- and not so much Christianity in general either, though that's a topic for another day. I would have ranted here in October about the Wells hall nuts, actually... and no doubt I'll do that in the spring. Wussies can't handle this weather, I guess.
The convenient way of thinking is to see people who are called and people who are not called. "Pastor X is called by God... I'm not very much like him so I must not be." "I don't know if I could live that lifestyle... I guess I'm a 'lay-person'". I want to take the term lay-ministry and throw it away, honestly. I know that's very Quaker of me, but you'll get used to it. Take it and throw it away... that makes it sound like you're a moonlight minister or something. That sounds like someone who volunteers to roof houses on mission trip and comes home and says "I'm not a roofer, it was just a mission trip." I respect those who are not called into seminary and into local parishes... and other forms of more intense involvement, but I want to take the term of "lay ministry" and throw it away. Keep the concept, but get rid of that escape hatch term!!!!! That's like saying discipleship is a night-job. I can't stand that... especially since I BOUGHT INTO IT. I might not be called to be 'ordained' (though I probably am, and I'm going to have to accept that...), and most of you probably won't be called to be 'ordained'.... but you're ordained by God for something. You're not night-job disciples if you're disciples at all. The role of disciple is no night-job. (I didn't expect to attack the term lay ministry, but okay... that's another good one, Father... it is an escape term. Not an escape term for those who are answering a call, but for those who know their call is more than they've done...) Let's take a jump here:
By imposing a binary model (minister/non-minister) people can justify not achieving God's discipleship goals for them. Go ahead and grumble, I can hear it--- 'are you saying that God wants to make us do something, cuz I dunno if I'm comfortable with that.' Take a number... welcome to humanity. God loves you too much not to have goals for you. I wouldn't be in college if my dad hadn't pushed me. I thought it was going to be too hard leaving home and I was scared. Don't you dare grumble about being pushed before you see what God can do! (whoa... dude... yes... ). I thank the Good Lord every day that He gave me a dad who wouldn't let me vascilate about pursuing an education.
And not everyone who goes to college finishes college for the same reason or does post-graduate work to the same extent and the same area. It's complex. How much more complex is God's call to discipleship. Certainly more than a "pastor/lay-person" model.
To sum it up (since I'm getting wordy) I think denying the continuum of ministry possibilities and roles is a pressing issue. It's one that I mean to expand upon... next time.
(Well, I suppose it was ambitious to try to cover this in one entry... if I was going to work in those oh-so tasty tangents. I was surprised by the 'quit your whining' tangent. I didn't see that coming... I think it was aimed at myself. Infact, I'm sure of it... but take heed!!! Yes... take heed...)