Monday, January 7, 2013

Society, Good Law, and Vocation

 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers,[b] pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” - Acts 6:2-4

I love being a pastor.  I mean, well, sometimes it can be frustrating as all get out.  I had forgotten that we should have installed newly elected officers at my vacancy yesterday (and they were good natured about it).  I said, "Well, I'm sorry, I had 10 services last month; I got a bit disorganized."  The elders chuckled amongst themselves and then said to me, "Well, Pastor, there were 31 days last month, you only worked a third of the time."  Of course, I replied, "Yeah, you are farmers, I suppose you sit on your backsides and just let the ground do all the work."

While it's something that is off handed, the whole "you only work on Sundays" does drive home that people know what the main job of a pastor is.  To tend to worship.  To tend to, as the Apostles put it, prayer and ministry of the world. There are other things that, well, just aren't as vital for pastors.  I mean, yes, I like helping out in the kitchen, but when it boils down to it - if I had to choose between getting the sermon finished to helping with the pot luck, we all know what I should be doing.

A Pastor is to handle the Word.

Now, I've always had this as a focus.  This has made me always a bit leery of pastors engaging in social activism (either on the right or on the left) - especially as it tends to move away from, well, either prayer or the Word of God.

It is especially troublesome as I see more pastors appealing to Natural Law arguments in a vain attempt to impact society.  Now, not only do I think this is a flawed approach from a rhetorical point of view (let's see... I need to engage people who are denying absolute reality and instead acting only on the basis of their whims... I know, instead of demonstrating how my position is actually in their best interest, I will make an appeal to some sort of absolute reality that I claim is obvious that they have never noticed before... yep, that won't seem like me making stuff up to try and control them, no, not at all), but I am somewhat dismayed by it from a theological point of view.

Why?  Because if you are arguing on the basis of Natural Law... you aren't ministering with the Word.

I mean, we aren't pastors of Deistic God who has made wonderful laws for the universe and just lets everything go... we have a God who comes down from Heaven, suffers, and dies so that sinners are forgiven; who rises that we may have life in Him.

Why the hell would we want to talk about anything other Christ?  Why would we run after the wisdom that the Greeks could see when we have Christ?

And especially in the Epiphany season - the season of revelation!

If you are a pastor, remember your task.  Tend to the prayers and the Word of God.  He is what we need.  Without Christ, all we are left with is a world who are a bit more orderly as they head to hell in a handbasket.

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