“All Christians are called through their baptism to this ministry of servanthood in the world to the glory of God and for human fulfillment.”
(¶126, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012)
You may have noticed that my reference text for this month’s Pastor’s column is not a direct quote from the Christian Bible, although it sure can pass as one. Rather, it is taken from our denomination’s Book of Discipline, the official voice of who and what and how we are as United Methodists, and it states a foundational premise undergirding everything that is to flow from us as followers of Christ. One can make the case that the 710 pages that follow define the details around how we agree to go about doing this as members of the United Methodist Church, which is definitely a very long definition. But while reading all these 710 pages of details can be one of the best cures for insomnia, that foundational premise would wake anyone from the deepest of sleep.
It says that all of us who claim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior are specifically called as ministers in servanthood to the world, and to do so for the glory of God and its implications to human life. It says that each and every one of us Christians are called by Christ to be ministers in this crazy, upside-down, broken, sin-sick, but awesomely beautiful and desperately hopeful world. This tells me that there is no ambiguity as to “who” is called. It means you, me, ALL Christians.
But while the “who” is pretty clear, the “what” and “how” and everything in between are pretty open, with the specific details not being provided. In other words, we know we have the ball, the goal line is well defined, but the specific details around how we are to get the ball to the goal are missing (to use a sports metaphor).
But perhaps that should not be so surprising, for the truth is that those details are as varied and diverse as all of us are varied and diverse. The overarching “call” from God is readily captured, but our particular role or position is unique to the gifts, talents, skills and experiences that we have been afforded by God, either as an individual or as a community of Christians. This necessarily means that our fuller understanding of God’s call as participating ministers in God’s mission is attained through listening, learning, discerning, trusting, and ultimately responding to God’s voice, in all the ways God speaks to us. This is admittedly not an easy endeavor, but it is mandatory as Christians, and an endeavor that is guaranteed to produce positive results.
As we wind down one programming year and prepare to begin another, let us renew our personal commitment to living out God’s call as followers of Christ. Let us each take that intentional step to listen, discern, and trust in the purposeful wisdom that God seeks to impart upon God’s beloved people. For while I do not know the specific details that we will discover along the way, I absolutely do know that God calls us to step into our respective roles in this ministry of servanthood in the world, and that doing so to the glory of God we may come to know fulfillment beyond imagination. And so, I look forward to journeying together as we discover and respond to that call.
May you continually know of God’s presence, leading, and blessing in your life … Pastor Bob