This week I will continue to work through Faith-Sharing by H. Eddie Fox and George E. Morris. The last time I wrote on this subject, we completed chapter four. Now I am going to skip over chapter 5 – we will come back to it later – to move to Chapter 6. I think the subject of chapter 6 is crucial to our understanding of our roles in the body of Christ – the church.
I am afraid most churches get it wrong according to Scripture. First Peter (2:5, 9-10) says that the laity are the people of God, called to be a holy priesthood, called by God and given a mandate to proclaim the mighty works of the One who creates, redeems and sustains. Yes he is pointing at you and me. Thus all of us, clergy and a laity, are called. Let me put it in the negative, you did not come to Christ on your own, you were called and sent by God alone. And we have been commanded to go out and share the good news of Jesus Christ. That means you and I together.
Clergy, like myself, are called out of the laity and with given gifts in order to serve the gathered community. That includes preaching, teaching, and guiding so that we all fulfill the mission of God given to us. The responsibility of the clergy is for the upbuilding of the community for ministry to others. This is to say simply my job is to make it possible for you to live out the ministry into which your were baptized. This is accomplished hrough interpretation of Scripture, effective proclamation of the gospel, and administration of the sacraments (communion and baptism). (Book of Discipline, para. 138).
You as the laity and I as clergy together are called through our common baptism to carry out the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20). Everyone one of us is thus called to be missional as God is missional. Strangely, or so it seems to us, as an institution we exist for the purpose of God to reach those who are not members.
Do you remember your baptism vows? Do you remember to what you are called to when you become a member of a church? When you are baptized and become a professing member of a church you say you will be faithful members of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world? So, how well are you doing at that? And when you are accepted into membership do you remember what is asked of you: “will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness.” So, how well are you doing at that?
And now I apologize and seek your forgiveness if I do not remind you of this enough, or if I do not make it crystal clear that when Jesus calls you he does so to save the world, not just you. God’s salvation offered in the atoning death of Jesus, the Messiah, is as it appears in John 3:16 is this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (ESV). Do you see that salvation does not end when you trust in Jesus, that is only the beginning for someone else who will experience your prayers, your gifts, your service, and your witness at God’s church on Greenwood Road and call on the name of the Lord. This is how faith is shared.