Our group (The Joondalup Thing) has many ongoing conversations. In fact one thing I love about our group is the ongoing nature and feel of the group between our more formal (?) gatherings. I would be a rich man if I got a dollar for every email sent during the week between our small group of friends. This week 2 themes have been thrown around at least by a small handful of us.
1. Is God a sexist? (Gender struggles)
2. Do we ‘bring people’ to something, an event a meeting to hear a preacher to meet the pastor? (Is our event any more or less sacred than when I go to my neighbours for coffee?)
David Timms who speaks into our group often via his weekly writings speaks well into some of the issues in this weeks thoughts.
“The Reformation principle of ‘the priesthood of all believers’ … teaches us that ‘the plow boy and the milk maid’ can do priestly work.
But even more profoundly it teaches us that the plow boy in his plowing and the milk maid in her milking are in fact doing priestly work.”
~ Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water, p.266.
Our Priestly Calling
The debate over women in ministry, the practice of only clergy baptizing converts, and the inordinate reverence attributed to the ordained, generally ignores the priesthood of all believers. Gender struggles, class distinctions, and specialist ministries create strange complications for this simple kingdom truth.
More than that, misunderstanding our vocation—our calling—robs us of the rich life Christ intended. Whoever submits to the Lordship of Christ and commits themself by faith to Him has a priestly calling.
The folk who officiate at our worship services and read Scripture at weddings and funerals play a valuable role among us. But if we insist that they alone are “ministers” or “priests” we deny our privilege and neglect our responsibility.
The implications reach far beyond this short reflection, but I suggest at least the following few points to consider.
First, the priesthood of all believers—biblically speaking—has no hierarchy among the believers and no distinctions between young and old, male and female, race, class, or heritage.
Second, the world is our sanctuary for ministry—not a building on Third and Main Streets that we open on Sunday mornings.
Third, it’s not that we sometimes do priestly things (pray, preach, or pastor) but everything we do becomes sacred. Whether we’re balancing budgets for large corporations or babysitting the neighbor’s kids, cooking meals or manufacturing ball-bearings—whatever we do in word or deed is now done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 3:17)
Fourth, every one of us, at all times, in all places, with all people, function as priests. This is the dream of God. “And I shall make them a kingdom of priests.” (Exodus 19:6; Revelation 1:6; 5:10) That means we constantly highlight the Presence of Christ among us, our hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) Just as the ancient Jewish priests gathered around the Holy of Holies and helped the people connect with God, so do we, whether we’re driving trucks, tutoring school children, or selling insurance.
We are priests in our work and as we work. If we can grasp the glorious significance of this truth, it will dramatically change our view of ourselves and those around us. The Lord has not called us to occasional sacred tasks. Instead, He desires to sanctify every task in our lives, from writing to wood-working, from plumbing to praying.
The artificial barriers between paid and unpaid kingdom-servants hinders our appropriation of this truth. Every follower of Christ brings the holy place to the world. May we do so more this week and grow in this grace.
In HOPE –
4 thoughts on “Another Gem From David Timms”
thanks Scott. Lovely. And yet I wonder how limiting David’s beautiful reflections might be when he writes: “Whoever submits to the Lordship of Christ and commits themself by faith to Him has a priestly calling.” I would agree with this in the broadest of terms, but fear the possibility it leaves us open to so-called ‘bounded-set’ thinking.
Now, if David will allow that all human beings have ‘that of God’ within them and that every loving moment (ideologies and theologies aside)is in some sense a moment of ‘Christ’, then sure. Then all of God’s chilluns – believers, non-believers, unsure-what-they-believers are imperfect conduits of Grace.
My point – it doesn’t just go one way.
Yes agreed with “me trying…” I think what stands out in what Timms says that compels me to disagree is the guy balancing the budget at the big corporation. Okay so now many of the largest corporations in the world exist in the most “saved”, Christian nation in the world and at the same time these same corporations are some of the most exploitative and obstructive to fair and just treatment of people. So maybe the accountant balancing the books is doing so by screwing the third world workers out of their 15c raise. The accountant is doing his “priestly work unto the Lord” of F#@$-ing over the poorest people on earth. And meanwhile it is “God Bless Amercia” every thing is honkey dorey in church on Sunday. Okay now dispite what it looks like I am saying my point is not to bash America because this illustration could apply to any nationality on earth it is just US is a easy target as they profess so loudly to be a Christian nation doing “priestly work for the world”. My point is more so to point out the huge, gaping hole in this whole idea of Luthers. The policemen who beat Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. back in the civil rights movement probably some how used this argument to justify their position. How do we reconcile that because some one is a Christian that they are doing priestly work by doing their job well. Exploiting the poor in the third world, beating people for standing up for justice, going to war on another nation for the sake of oil are any of these things things that the Christ would ask of any one? I doubt it. The number of those that are not carrying the flag of believer but doing “priestly work” that is Christ like compels me to agreed wholeheartedly with “me…”
great post lanceanddeb
and, ‘is God sexist?’ hmm…
not to mention is God a racist? is God homophobic? is God a warmonger? is God a murderer? is God bloodthirsty? is God a Mercedes Benz dealership or a Centrelink bureaucracy? you could do a whole series on whether or not God is a prude! perhaps it would be more fun just to ponder whether God is an atheist?
(Sorry if I sound flippant – nothing is particularly funny about being at the reciving end of sexism, racism, homophobia, warmongering, greed, power, hypocrisy, etc. whether it is backed by religious belief or not)
Lance I understand the point you are making – our actions need to match our label (and yes – the label of ‘christian’ seems more often to mean white middle-class westerner). Perhaps another side of it is that “He desires to sanctify every task in our lives” is speaking of the need to get rid of the sacred-secular divide and challenge how people can profess Christ on Sunday and live against Him during the week. Perhaps the evil of greed and violence being perpetrated by so-called ‘believers’ occurs because too many generations have been taught that what happens on Sunday or in your “prayer-closet” has nothing to do with your vocation and day-to-day living.
I guess my question is – how do people do things “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (col 3:17)” if they don’t know who He is? Is not the concept underlying priesthood that of reconciliation or “go-between” between humanity and God – not just doing good deeds?