One of the things I tend to emphasize in my preaching and teaching is that we are all, every one of us, ordained ministers. We’re ordained at our baptisms to minister to each other and to our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ. I love that imagery. I love the way it shapes us as a church family, sharing and meeting each other’s needs and having all things in common. We minister when we put the interests of others ahead of our own.
During last night’s congregational informational Small Groups meeting here at Legacy a different, but related, thought came to mind. We claim to be a Kingdom of Priests. We’re a priesthood of believers. But what does that mean? Does the priest image communicate to us a different concept than the image of Christians as ministers? Is it deeper? How is a priest different from a minister? Have I been using the wrong image to communicate the way we, as believers, are to act with one another and within the community?
I think the “priesthood of all believers,” which actually comes straight from Martin Luther and the Reformation, has probably been distorted by a lot of us. As a concept, I think we see this “priesthood” in terms of individuals functioning as our own priests. We assume — or even worse, insist — that, “I don’t need a priest. Jesus is my priest. It’s just him and me. I can do OK on my own.”
That distorts the true nature of the Biblical concept. “Kingdom of Priests” (Biblical term) and “Priesthood of all Believers” (Reformation term) means that we are all priests, not for ourselves, but for one another. The idea should be more like, “I need you for my priest. And while we’re at it, I’m available to you as your priest, too.”
Eugene Peterson puts it this way in his latest theological work, The Jesus Way:
“The priesthood of all believers is not an arrogant individualism that, at least in matters dealing with God, doesn’t need anyone. It is a confession of mutuality, a willingness to guide one another in following in the way of Jesus, to assist and encourage, to speak and act in Jesus’ name. In the community of the baptized, there is no one, absolutely no one, who is not involved in this priestly function of leading and being led.”
Oh, man, does that work well with what we’re trying to do here with Legacy Small Groups Church.
***Legacy Construction Update***
The steel beams are going up. Two floors on the new youth and benevolence center are clearly established. It looks like this may be the quickest part of the construction process. Or it may just be that it’s the most visible.