Calling and Contentment

We recently had a service of priestly ordinations.  It was a wonderfully powerful time in the presence of the Lord, and marks a new season for us as a movement.  A season filled with revelation of the High Priestly ministry of Jesus, and a deeper understanding of the call that is on all of God’s people to be a kingdom of priests to the world.

And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. 

Exodus 19:6

In the midst of all of that, I have been reflecting again on my own calling.  I am a deacon.  I feel a strong sense of call to the diaconate and I feel very at home here in this office.  That seems to be somewhat difficult for people to understand.

I had to laugh, because in the days after the priestly ordinations, I received such overwhelming affirmation from so many people.  And I appreciated it.  I genuinely did.  If you were one of the people that encouraged me – thank you!  What caught me off guard, though, is that many of the faces looked as though they were offering condolences.  It seemed as though maybe people felt like I should feel overlooked, or that I wasn’t good enough to be chosen for the priesthood.  I felt like people expected me to be sad, or something.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  I love the office of priest.  I love that many of my closest brothers, those who I was ordained to the diaconate with, were called to the office of priest.  I am excited about the impacts that their priestly service will have on our congregation and on our city.  But I am not a priest.  Every member of the Body has a place, a function, a charism from God; and mine is best expressed in the diaconate.

Let me try to explain.

I have, for most of my life, felt a call to vocational ministry, but I was not at all interested in becoming a lead pastor, which was really the only option for vocational ministry in the churches that I was raised in.  This left me confused.  What did God want from me?  What are the gifts that he has given to me for the building up and edification of the Body, and how am I to use them?  There didn’t really seem to be a category for people like me.

When I began to study Holy Orders and the three offices of bishop, priest, and deacon; I found myself being drawn towards the diaconate.  The foundations of this office are in Acts 6 where the apostles set apart ‘the seven’ for the task of waiting on tables and serving the poor – so that they would be able to focus whole heartedly on “prayer and the ministry of the word”.  So then, this office is one that is founded on service.  On serving Christ, serving his Church and serving the world.

It is an office that is deeply missional, designed to be a bridge between the Church and the world.  This analogy has been so useful for me, because it has helped to explain the strange dichotomy that I often experienced – I was comfortable in virtually any situation with any group of people, and yet I rarely felt a sense of belonging.  I was fine where I was, but my thoughts and desires were often elsewhere.  This is in some ways because the call of the deacon is to bridge between such diverse points of contact.  When in the Church, one of the roles of a deacon is to promote the world – to inspire God’s people into missional engagement with their neighbours and to interpret the needs of the city to the People of God.  When in the world, the deacon embodies and promotes the ministry of the Church – proclaiming the Good News of Jesus and helping people on their journey into his household.

So, wherever I find myself, in some ways my role is to be a connecting point for somewhere else.  I exist in the in between.  On the outer edges of the advancing Kingdom and on the steps of the altar.

Now that I understand that, I am not so confused.  I like this place and I’m convinced that God has set me here.  I am content with the calling he has given me.

Sometimes I think we read the scriptures wrongly.  We so believe in equality that we forfeit distinction.  We forget God’s right to choose unique callings for every member of the Body.  We somehow think that every gift should be for us.  Every calling should be for us.  Every charism should be given to us.

But that’s not the way it works.  The Body doesn’t function unless the parts work in harmony, each contributing in their own way.  A hand can try all it wants to be an eye, but it’s not going to be very good at it, and the whole body will suffer as a result.

God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single organ, where would the body be?

1 Corinthians 12:18-19

In ancient Israel when God was in the midst of delivering his People from slavery in Egypt and leading them towards their inheritance – there was only one man who was allowed to climb the mountain and enter God’s presence.  Was Moses more loved than the rest?  Was he more worthy?  No.  Not at all.  He was chosen by God and anointed for that role – and his fulfilling of that role was done in service to God and for the edification of all God’s People.

Whatever God has called you to, whether it’s the priesthood, motherhood, custodial or healing ministry, your calling can be fulfilled in service to God and for the edification of all of God’s People.  Callings cannot be measured by way of comparison to the things that God has chosen for others.  Instead, we celebrate the gifts of God in others, confident that God has good things for us as well, and that when each of us functions in the roles that God has set out for us the whole Body benefits.  Every calling is indispensable and is worth celebrating.

Be thankful then for the unique qualities that God has instilled in you and for the particular gifts that he has granted to you.  And if you’re not sure what those are yet – celebrate the things that you can identify in the people around you.

He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling.

1 John 2:10

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  1. What a privilege to follow in the steps of those first seven. My congratulations on your ordination and of the wisdom in these words which would be inspiring to new ordinands at any level. Thank you for liking my poem ‘Harmony’. It was inspired by the death of the wife of a minister and friend of mine a few years ago.

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  2. Thank you very much. God bless you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Where does Convergent Christianity stand on this development? With God’s word, or the Anglicans?

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/13/anglican-church-of-canada-backs-same-sex-marriage-a-day-after-rejecting-it

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    • On the issue of same sex marriage we hold to the interpretations of Scripture that have been espoused by the Church for 2000 years. We share these views with Roman Catholics, Orthodox, the Anglican Network in Canada, and most of Canada’s Evangelical and Charismatic churches.

      As far as the Anglican Church of Canada goes, it seems likely that they will begin to move forward regardless, but this issue has not yet been put to rest for them. The motion has to pass again in three years before they will actually change their canons. Nothing has technically changed yet. They could use your prayers, if you’re willing. Particularly the 1/3 of them that voted against it in favour of the historic Christian understanding of marriage. Thank you Robin.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You would remain in union with people who espouse the faith, but betray God’s word, His will in this way? Sounds like some pretty serious compromise. The United church has not successfully navigated this balance of appeasing man and God – perhaps you should consider your denominational loyalties – nowhere in God’s word are they promoted or valued.

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    • We are not in union with the Anglican Church of Canada, and, (as I told you a month ago when you first asked this question), we openly disagree with their proposed changes to the sacrament of marriage.

      Also, (replying here because I prefer to keep my replies in one place), I am aware of this church’s history. Thank you for bringing that up. Those who started this church fought extremely hard for orthodoxy. They made tremendous sacrifices and faced opposition at every turn – from those who were known to be foes and from those who were thought to be friends. Their faith and courage has borne abundant fruit in them and through them, impacting generations of Christians and their families. Those of us who have been recipients of this inheritance are forever in debt to those that have gone before us and we are truly and deeply thankful for them and for the journey that the Lord led them on. The Lord is good.

      The journeys of this generation are not altogether different. This has always been a church that follows the Lord wherever he leads and whatever the consequences. We have not stopped fighting for orthodoxy, and at this time the primary heresy that the Lord has us fighting against is division. The Scriptures do not speak of denominational boundaries, the Scriptures speak of one, glorious Church with Christ as the Head. As long as the Bride of Christ remains in a schismatic and fragmented state, every single one of us is a heretic. Our divisive practices are out of sync with God’s word and will. This is not ok. Out of love for Christ and obedience to his word, we have therefore devoted ourselves to the building up and edification of his Body – that he may be glorified in this city and in this nation and across the whole earth.

      This does not mean that unity is more important than truth. It does mean that our mutual union in Christ must compel us towards one another in love and that we must do all we can do to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

      Thanks for your comments Robin, have a great day!

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  5. For your further edification, and all those who would-be faithful, still submitting themselves to what is now controlled by the godless. No one can serve two masters.

    http://www.ezrainstitute.ca/resource-library/blog-entries/goodbye-to-the-anglican-church-of-canada

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  6. I’d like to also add, if I may, that Via/River of Life was forged on the backs of those who took a stand against sexual immorality in the church (I trust you know your church’s history). If you believe God was the source of that congregation’s growth and blessing – how can you now stand complacently by as truth is injured, and expect to be blessed? Does God change?

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  7. In my experience, church leadership will often point to division as the cardinal sin, whenever disagreement is present. However, if you look at the original wording, say, for example, Titus 3:10, where leaders are encouraged to reject a “divisive” man after first and second admonition, the word means a “heretical” man. Heretical, as in, stating that sexual immorality is at all tolerable within the Bride of Christ. That makes the Anglican Church of Canada heretical.

    Your lead pastor (with the extra plus, right), was consecrated in the Anglican Church – has he renounced their influence over him, as he seeks to make decisions for Via? Is he no longer under their authority? Again, no one can serve two masters.

    You can dress up what’s going on there in any robe you like – you’re straying.

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