Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pastors as Important Things

"Who is to bring the knowledge that will answer the great life questions that perplex humanity? Who is to teach the world - the "nations," people of all kinds - the knowledge that belongs to Christ and his people? In any subject matter the responsibility to teach falls upon those who have the corresponding knowledge. With respect to Christian knowledge, the primary responsibility to teach  falls upon those who self-identify as spokespeople for Christ and who perhaps have some leadership position or role in Christian organizations. I shall use the word "pastors" for such people, but the word is here to be taken very broadly; it refers not just to those who hold a position with that title - though it is especially for them." (pg. 193)

Pastors need to have their work dignified, both from without and within.  Very few people can adequately define and describe the role of a pastor in a community or a congregation without succumbing to simplifications, and few outside the church walls even understand what a pastor "does."  As a result of these realities (and many other things), pastors have an "undignified" profession in the eyes of many, and in some cases, in their own eyes.  But in the passage cited above Willard pours some of the most important activity possible into the vessel of "pastor" and describes them with the role of teaching the nations the knowledge of Christ that answers the most difficult realities of life.

Pastor, you are handling the nuclear energy of the human soul when you claim to stand in for Christ and His Word.  What you proclaim is no less than the ideas and knowledge given by God to handle the human life.  You are not the world's "fix-it" people, or fill-in messiahs, or gap-fillers for the rest of our culture's self-help schemes.  You are handlers of the knowledge of the Creator of all things, especially the human soul.

Are you up for that task?  Is this an accurate description of who you pray you will be when you stand behind a pulpit or visit someone in a coffee shop?  Have you unwittingly succumbed to the low expectations of a culture that seems to know only the healing powers of medical science or pop-psychology?  Do you know where you fit in?

No comments: