Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:11 (ESV)
210 At times, seeing those souls asleep, one feels an enormous desire to shout at them, to make them take notice, to wake them up from that terrible torpor they have fallen into. It is so sad to see them walk like a blind man hitting out with his stick, without finding the way! I can well understand how the tears of Jesus over Jerusalem sprang from his perfect charity. (1)
The purpose of observing ceremonies is that men may learn the Scriptures and that those who have been touched by the Word may receive faith and fear (awe) and so may also pray. (2)
One of the reasons I am a Lutheran pastor, one of the reasons I love our confessions is the same reason I often am found quoting a Catholic priest/saint named Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. ( It is also the reason I am indebted to my non-denom Bible College professors, especially Doug Dickey and Rodney Vliet, and my fellow alum and now professor Chris G.
For all of the above, and some others in life, there is no division between pastoral practice – how we minister and equip others for ministry, and the depth of our theology. It’s not the academics against the pragmatics, the “confessionals” versus the “church growthers”. And while the theology differs a bit at times, there is a…. holistic approach that requires that we realize the harmony between doctrine and practice. The pastor/priest or whatever form of ministry (professor,teacher,deacon, director of ministry) cannot divide his day by saying, from 8-9 I will pray, from 9-11 I will do theology, from 1-5 I will fulfill my pastoral duties and ministry obligations, and from 7-10 I will do church growth. It is one constant movement, one constant life.
Otherwise, I would contend, if you think our lives can be divided like this, you have done none of the above, but have simply whistled into the wind. The Lutheran doctrine of vocation, and Escriva’s teaching on the apostolate doesn’t work this way. For both find their beginning point – and entire existence, in one place.
As this blog is titled – “the heart of theology and the heart of ministry is the Heart of Christ”.
Our theology finds itself created, not in books and seminary or catechetical courses, but in our baptism, at the point where God transforms us, begins to conform our mind to that of Christ. As we are united to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, theology begins, ministry starts. (yes even as a baby is baptized!) For as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, as the word begins to germinate in us, quickening life, we become theologians, we become ministers, servants of the word.
And it is the sacred heart of Christ which replaces our cold, stone hearts (see Ezekiel 36) and we begin to see the world as Christ does. The more we see Christ’s heart and desire to be with us, the more we comprehend the depth of the Father’s love, the more we realize that our masses, our Bible studies, our retreats serve not to just impart doctrine – but to lead us to pray, to lead us to worship, to lead us to interact with God as He shares His glory with us as we dwell in His presence.
Ministry and Theology have to find their essence there, in the heart of God.
Otherwise – you can find blog after blog of theologians claiming programs aren’t based in the faith, and pastors who call their seminary experience their death, and their seminaries nothing more than cemeteries. They both have a point – and the point is the same…..
Without being found and nurtured and developed within the heart of Christ – they aren’t theology and ministry, they are academics and business practices.
But when those very same things are baptised, when they are united with the heart and mind of our benevolent, caring Master Jesus…. when we look at those struggling without Christ as St. Josemaria describes them, as we wolf down theology that shows the glory of God’s work in us, then it is theology, it is ministry, it is one….
for we are one…in Christ.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1086-1089). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 250). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
- Ministry is not a profession… it is the vocation of all…. (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Back to School… Flashcard Knowledge and Faith.. (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Something I’ve Known, But Never Fully Grasped Before… (beautifulthingsfromdust.wordpress.com)
- Some thoughts about why the Church is Here…. (justifiedandsinner.com)