Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Called to be Clear

Paul makes no bones about it.  He is as he puts it, "...called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God..."  (Romans 1:1)  Sent and set apart by God.  No one has to wonder who he sees himself as being.  I remember back in my middle teenage years when I was moving toward God, but not there yet.  I wanted to see myself as a Christian, but I did not want anyone to know.  I wanted to blend in with all the others who were my age.  It seemed to me then that declaring myself a Christian would set me apart in a way I wanted to avoid.
Strange as it might sound, it is an issue which afflicts many who serve in the ranks of the clergy.  What often happens to those who have been "sent and set apart by God" is that they end up wanting to be just like everyone else.  They want to blend in.  They want to be liked, accepted, and patted on the back. For some this expresses itself in some kind of extravagant behavior.  For some this expresses itself by making sure nothing about their appearance resembles the traditional image of a pastor.  Clergy robes and ties are avoided on Sunday and weekday attire is blue jeans and t-shirts.  And, in some cases profane language is adopted and excused as acceptable in order to be one of the guys.  Certainly, all these things are superficial, but they may also be pointing toward some confusion about what it means to be "sent and set apart by God."

The truth is anyone who professes to be "sent and set apart by God" is different.  Fitting in is not an option.  Faithfulness requires standing in a different place, in a different way, and with different values.  When the one "sent and set apart by God" stands up, there is no confusion.  And, what is true of those who wear the mantle of the clergy are no different than anyone who has been touched by the baptismal waters. The waters set us all apart.  No one should ever be confused about the One for whom we stand.

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