Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ministry: A Call from God to become Holy

Thanks to Professor (and ELCA Pastor) Karl Donfried (he's the guy who came in second in the last election for ELCA Presiding Bishop) for calling attention to this from Luke Timothy Johnson:

Particularly for those called to a life of ministry within the church, 2 Timothy poses some powerful challenges. It proposes that ministry is not a career choice, but a call from God to become holy. Neither is ministry a body of lore to communicate or a set of skills to exercise, but a matter of living in a certain manner that expresses one's deepest convictions in consistent patterns of behavior. Transformation of character or, if one prefers, continuing conversion is the very essence of ministry, as it is of discipleship. Carrying out acts of ministry without the corresponding affections is a form of counterfeiting, to "have the form of piety while denying its power" (3:5). Ministry, furthermore, is not measured by success, but by fidelity. Ministry demands witnessing to uncomfortable and unpopular truths in the face of indifference and disagreement. Ministry inevitably involves suffering if the gospel is truly lived and rightly proclaimed. The minister labors in a hope not of reward or recognition in this life, but in a hope of sharing in the resurrection life. Not one of these truths is supported by present-day culture. Few of them are supported by the church. The voice of 2 Timothy is not a voice that lulls Christians into a comfortable security, but one that speaks with the urgency of prophecy, calling for witnesses to truth in an age that prefers teachers who cater to its desires (4:3).

From The First and Second Letters to Timothy: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Luke Timothy Johnson, Anchor Bible, Vol. 35A, New York, Doubleday, 2001, p. 330.


Brian said...

Wow. How cool if this guy would have become the presiding bishop of the ELCA.

William Weedon said...

Sounds like it would have been very cool indeed!

Pastor Zip said...

Well, the vote was 888-73, with another 53 votes among 5 others. ;->