Sunday, July 2, 2006

The Sacred Calling

On August 24, 1744, Wesley preached a sermon at St. Mary’s, Oxford, before the University. Part of his address is as follows:
Many of us are more immediately consecrated to God, called to minister in holy things. Are we then patterns to the rest, 'in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity' (1 Tim. 4:12)? Is there written on our forehead and on our heart, 'Holiness to the Lord?' From what motives did we enter upon this office? Was it indeed with a single eye 'to serve God, trusting that we were inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon us this ministration, for the promoting of his glory, and the edifying of his people?” And have we 'clearly determined, by God’s grace, to give ourselves wholly to this office?' Do we forsake and set aside, as much as in us lies, all worldly cares and studies? Do we apply ourselves wholly to this one thing, and draw all our cares and studies this way? Are we apt to teach? Are we taught of God, that we may be able to teach others also? Do we know God? Do we know Jesus Christ? Hath 'God revealed his Son in us?' And hath he 'made us able ministers of the new covenant?' Where then are the 'seals of our apostleship?' Who, that were dead in trespasses and sins, have been quickened by our word? Have we a burning zeal to save souls from death, so that for their sake we often forget even to eat our bread? Do we speak plain, 'by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God' (2 Cor. 4:2)? Are we dead to the world, and the things of the world, 'laying up all our treasure in heaven?' Do we lord over God’s heritage? Or are we the least, the servants of all? When we bear the reproach of Christ, does it sit heavy upon us? Or do we rejoice therein? When we are smitten on the one cheek, do we resent it? Are we impatient of affronts? Or do we turn the other also; not resisting the evil, but overcoming evil with good? Have we a bitter zeal, inciting us to strive sharply and passionately with them that are out of the way? Or is our zeal the flame of love, so as to direct all our words with sweetness, lowliness, and meekness of wisdom?
(Sermons, #4, "Scriptural Christianity")
Call the above what you will but you can't call it ambiguous! I freely confess that I fall short of his definition of a minister. I suspect many of my brothers in ministry would feel the same.

Wesley brings home a cardinal truth: the ministry is nothing less than a sacred calling; it is God who makes a minister, not an ordination committee. (I'm not against ordination committees, I'm simply pointing out that the calling must be divine in origin.)

However, the Christian life, itself, is a sacred calling. We are not like everybody else. We are no longer of the kingdom of the "first man Adam", we are of the kingdom of the "last Adam", Christ, himself (1 Cor 15.45 ESV). We are a new creation, not of the old order (2 Cor 5.17). We are a kingdom of priests (Rev 1.5b-6)

Consider the Apostle Peter's words:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
(1Pe 2.9 ESV)
As a Christian you are special; lift up your head and act like it!