The ‘Priesthood of All Believers’ for Work

I composed the following as a devotional for some of my Christian coworkers at work.


For those of us who are Protestant, we will likely be celebrating the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this coming fall.

In light of that, as we think of our Christian calling in relation to our work, it’s more than fitting to recount the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.

Christian historical philosopher Alister McGrath explains in the following:

“From the outset, Protestantism rejected the critical medieval distinction between the ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ orders. While this position can easily be interpreted as a claim for the desacralization of the sacred, it can equally well be understood as a claim for the sacralization of the secular. As early as 1520, Luther had laid the fundamental conceptual foundations for created sacred space within the secular. His doctrine of the ‘priesthood of all believers’ asserted that there is no genuine difference of status between the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘temporal’ order. All Christians are called to be priests – and can exercise that calling within the everyday world. The idea of ‘calling’ was fundamentally redefined: no longer was it about being called to serve God by leaving the world; it was now about serving God in the world.”

The spearhead of recovering this Biblical theology was Protestant reformer Martin Luther:

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The Opiate of Our Masses

Karl Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses.

To the contrary, our opiate is ignoring questions of ultimate meaning. We pursue our careers, work our jobs, give ourselves to our relationships and families, dedicate ourselves to hobbies, pacify ourselves with substance and entertainment, while seemingly ever-avoiding the question, “What does it matter? What’s the point?” We are all going to die someday. So, what of all this will possibly escape death’s menacing judgment of “pointless!” “meaningless!” “trivial!”?

This is the elephant that looms large in the room. And we are content (dare I say, determined) to ignore and avoid it at all costs.

So great is our determination here that we have an unwritten (verbalized) rule for it. We want to privatize religion and its disruptive sort questions along these lines. They’re uncomfortable. “Don’t talk religion and politics,” we say, “(but especially religion)” we mean — that is, if you take religion as something more than sentimental tradition; that is, if you actually believe it to be making exclusive sort of truth-claims.

Some of us are dead set to avoid conflict. “Niceness” (at seemingly all costs) is our culture’s highest virtue. Others of us are far too uncontemplative, or maybe intoxicated with the triviality — “This stuff is all too serious. Take it easy, man.”

So, we keep ignoring that foreboding elephant. We’re like a child who has been given a certain chore to do. We fool ourselves into thinking that by postponing or neglecting it long enough it will just go away or be forgotten.

These questions may be controversial, taxing, and disruptive — they certainly are. And I’m very much aware that it’s quite easier and more soothing to just ignore them. But they are far too important for that.

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“‘Vanity of vanities!’ says the Preacher. ‘All is vanity!'” – Ecclesiastes

Jubilee

Abstract: In the Exodus, God delivered his people from slavery in order that they might rest securely with him in his special Promised Land. In order to preserve and reinforce this work of redemption (liberation), God instituted the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-55), also known as the “year of liberation.” Every fifty years, this Jubilee was proclaimed throughout the land. Those who had been forced to sell themselves into slavery due to economic hardship were freed; and, likewise, land that was sold was returned to its family. The year of Jubilee both reveals God’s immense compassion for the downtrodden and points us forward in anticipation to the ultimate Jubilee that is achieved for us by Jesus (Isaiah 61:1-4; Luke 4:16-21).



The Jubilee (Lev 25:8-55; cf. 27:16-24; Num 36:4; Jer 34:8-22), also known as a “year of liberty” (Ezek 46:17), was a special institution given by God to preserve and reinforce his work of redemption on behalf of his people.

In the Exodus, God had liberated his people from the bondage of slavery under the Egyptians. He did so in order that he might claim them as his special people and cause them to dwell securely (rest) in his special place (the Promised Land) (e.g., Ex 3:8; Lev 25:38). In so doing, God was recovering his purpose for creation — God’s people dwelling securely with him (resting) in God’s special place.

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Questions for a Christian Analysis of Civil Disobedience

What is civil disobedience?

Civil disobedience is the intentional breach of legal duty. It is breaking the law. Those who engage in such disobedience lack the legal right to do so, i.e., their behavior is illegal, not legal. However, this sort of disobedience is to be distinguished from mere defiance, rebellion, or criminality. It is disobedience on the grounds of some claimed moral justification or duty.

One expression of civil disobedience is [a] the refusal to comply with and obey a law based on conscience — it is thought that to obey the law is to do evil, thus justifying (or even demanding) disobedience. The perceived evil may be “sin of commission” (being commanded to do wrong) or “sin of omission” (being commanded to refrain from good).

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Christ as the Cornerstone of God’s Redemptive Temple-Building Project

The following is an excerpt from some material I composed for the teaching ministry of South City Church. You can listen to the sermon on which this material is based here — Our Identity and Calling in Christ (1 Peter 2:4-10).


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In our passage this week [1 Peter 2:4-10], Peter makes use of this idea of temple.

Our understanding of temple begins in the Garden of Eden. If we were to look at Genesis 1-3 carefully, there are signs that we are suppose to see the Garden of Eden as something like a temple — a place where God dwells with humanity. Later when God gives Israel the tabernacle and temple, interestingly enough he tells them to decorate them with trees and things that make them look like a new Eden of sorts. The Garden of Eden is a “garden-temple.” And it is in this garden that God dwells with humanity without hindrance, without the intrusion of sin. Humanity experiences God’s presence and worships him perfectly.

When Adam and Even rebel, however, sin enters the equation. And this breaks the relationship between God and mankind. God, who is immeasurably holy, cannot tolerate sin. God’s, in his perfection, cannot dwell in the presence of sin without destroying it. This is why in the Old Testament, the levitical (temple) Law speaks of things being “unclean” and the sacrifices and their blood “cleansing” and “purifying.” It was through the temple and its sacrifices that God was able to dwell with his people again, despite sin. This is why God gave the temple, so that he could dwell with his people. And this is why he ordered the sacrifices, to deal with their sin.

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