Why We (pastors and priests) Do What We Do… and Your Role as well
Devotional Thought of the Day:
27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29 To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:27-29 (TEV)
Ultimately that is what the priesthood is all about: to have seen Jesus oneself, to have received with love him whom we have seen, to live in that seeing, and then to show him to others. (1)
3 After all, the chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach the people what they need to know about Christ. (2)
One of the greatest challenges for a pastor or a priest in this day is to minister to those who think they are already “saved.”.This includes ourselves and our peers. The challenge is complicated by the fact that we often forget what our calling is, losing it in the various functions of our ministry.
We are expected to be jacks of all trades, able to do plumbing, accounting, music, leading a non-profit, knowledge about employment law, property law, tax law, teach, and keeping the balance between being a solid administrator and a competent theologian. It is this latter role, that of a theologian, which can consume us even more than the rest. In letting it consume us, it can lead us away from the ministry, the ministering to which we have been called, and set apart.
It’s odd for a Lutheran pastor to quote a pope or a Catholic, I probably do it more than most. The above quote in blue is from a pope, but not as some might expect Francis. It is from Benedict, whose writings are as pastoral as Francis’s words. He sees his role, and that of priests (and I would hope pastors ) as simply and clearly as St. Paul did to the church in Colossae. It is also, according to Lutheran confessions, the reason we are gathered together with the people of God. This is seen in the quote in green, our purpose, our reason for existence as the church, is to give people what they need to know about Jesus.
It is that simple, everything we do as pastors, priests, ministers of all kinds in all places, boils down to that. Introduce people to the love of Christ. Help them as Paul says, explore (and be in awe of) the immense dimensions of God’s love for you, for me, for us, that is revealed in Jesus. From the planning of our salvation before the world began, to its creation, to His incarnation, life, teaching, miracle working, suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and even His on-going advocacy for us at the Father’s side; He does this that we would know Him!
Our people need to know this, their friends and neighbors need to hear it. Even our enemies and adversaries (and people who are simply a pain in the… neck) need to know Jesus.
Pope Benedict, a pastor at heart, in the same message, wrote why:
But when a person has once met Christ, when a person has once seen Jesus and really learned to know him, then everything is changed. Then everything else is comprehensible and life is renewed. And you priests have really only one task: to present Jesus to all people in such a way that they see him and learn to love him. Then everything that faith teaches will be self-evident. (1)
There it , it is why we do what we do… why we struggle to do it, trying to keep our eyes on Christ, working hard to see people know His love.
By the way, you are welcome to help as well, and as you get to know His love, you will find a innate desire to do so, for that is how much His love will mean to you.
(1) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 191). San Francisco: Ignatius Press. (devotions for June 13th)
(2) Augsburg Confession, Art XXIV
Posted on June 13, 2015, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged Abiding in Christ, apostolate, brokenness, Cardinal Ratzinger, Catholics, healing, Lutherans, mission, Missional, pastors, Pope Benedict, priests, The Gospel, the love of Christ, the love of GOd. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.