Disclaimer: I don’t know much about Catholic theology. What I address here deals more with perception than historical veracity. So keep in mind, what I am about to share is more of a personal application than broad.
I wonder if may be when we “protested” the Catholic church, we really knew what we were doing. I mean, I wasn’t there and all, and I have learned all the Catholic theologies that are “misguided” (as I understand them). I know to avoid Mary worship, or to think that the saints can intercede for us (that being dead saints) in lieu of the Christ, I know to believe in the priesthood of all believers as opposed to having a special “class” of priests, etc. etc.
I won’t address all these things here, though that would probably be a worthy endeavor. However, where it concerns the priesthood, I have wondered this: When we adopted the Biblical perspective of the “priesthood” of all believers… did we perhaps throw the baby out with the bathwater? It seems to me that since we believe in the priesthood of all believers, this has translated into the priesthood of no one.
One of my favorite moves: The Incredibles. Watch this:
Okay. There at the end. “Everyone is special Dash…” And he responds, “Which is another way of saying, ‘No one is.’
I think I get his point. I get hers, too. Yes, everyone is special in their own way. But to throw a blanket on someone’s gift in the name of conformity is to remove a large portion of their calling.
I wonder… since we have said, “Everyone is priest” that has become “another way of saying, no one is.”
In an upcoming sermon series, I hope to address this very thing. The idea that we are indeed a priesthood of believers. However, within that priesthood there are various functions, roles, and realities to be lived out under the heading “priest.” I think we have done the church a disservice by relieving it of the title and practical function of the”priesthood.”
Should the priesthood be a “special” class? Elevated above others? Venerated in unbiblical ways? Of course not on all counts. But how many of us who believe that we are a nation of priests can say when the last time we did something “priestly?” What is our priestly function? Can we serve it? Can we articulate it? Can we describe to others what our roles are in serving as Christ’s priests on the earth?
I say we study it. I say we reclaim it. I say that if we’re going to claim to be a priesthood of believers, that we start functioning like priests in this world. I wonder if we did, what our Catholic friends might think?
Here I must say… I see very readily the kind of unbridled restlessness that pervades our world. If I were to speak of all three of these Kill Joys as false gods, or idols I would name them this way:
First, Narcissism – the god of “self”
Second, Pragmatism – the god of the empirical.
And third, unbridled restless – the god of experience.
Our flesh thirsts, hungers, longs for experience. And our culture provides an over-abundance of experiences on which we may gorge our appetites to the point of exhaustion. We have allowed ourselves to be put in an environment of constant over stimulation. All of our senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch are given so much stimuli that we become numb to the “ordinary” and special occasions of heightened senses cease to be special occasions.
The way we eat. For many of us, most of us, myself included, hunger is never a real threat. We have refined everything … every taste … from the bitter … to the sweet … to the sour … to the savory. It is all intensified and has even in its most concentrated forms, become mundane. Our addictions to caffeine have moved us from coffee, to soda, to No Doz pills, and now energy drinks that contain unnecessary amounts of caffeine. And it isn’t just caffiene. It’s sweeteners. It’s movies that once satisfied us in black and white, now color, now high definition, now three dimensions. What is next, one wonders? And when will today’s thrillers be tomorrow’s sleepers?
The result of all this “experience” is that we are left with an unbridled restlessness. We simply cannot get enough experience. We cannot see enough, hear enough, eat enough, smell enough or touch enough. So we eat more, listen more, feel more, touch more… and find the emptiness of our lives leaving us desperate for something we cannot even name.
I think Rolhieser has it right when he says that the answer to the restless soul is contemplation. In fact, for those who are at least nominally Christian and would follow after the discipline of Christ himself… contemplation is a must.
For us to remove from the “high places” our gods of self, empiricism and experience, we must shut them out and consider how our very lives as temples of the Holy Spirit are aligned with the heavenly tabernacle… the true temple in which Christ is seated at the right hand of God. That is, by definition, what contemplation is. . . an aligning of temples. The inward temple with the heavenly.
I encourage you to stop pursing self, to stop relying solely on what “works,” to cease from “experience” long enough to examine the Holy Place. To consider the heaven in which Christ sits with all authority over heaven and earth… and from that place acquire (or to inquire of God for) an alignment for the soul.
May we be a people who can contemplate (with temple). May we align our inward Spiritual House for God with the place in which he resides heavenly. May the spirit within us cry out along with the seraphs and the cherubim…. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Who was, and who is, and who is to come!”
Okay, so you saw in the Genesis 1 account which I believe to be both mythical and true simultaneously, that light was created before the very things that we would normally consider to be light ‘sources.’ This is important. Why? Because it shows that concept precedes reality. Or, function precedes form.
In essense, what I am saying is that light does not ultimately rely on it’s physical forms or sources to exist. Light exists because God, the ultimate non-contingency called it into being. He said, “Let there be light.” And there it was. Only later did he create the sun, moon, stars, and separate light out and put it in its varoius form to be emanated from its various “sources.”
Now for something more profound. Scripture tells us that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. God is light. God created light. God created light before he created the physical forms that emanate it. Therefore the light that emanates from all “sources” is greater than the sources themselves. Now let’s apply that same logic to something else Scripture says God is.
God is love. God created love, God created love before he created the physical forms that emanate it. Therefore the love of God that emanates from all earthly “sources” (i.e. you and me) is actually greater than the sources themselves. Is it not true that Scripture tells us that God pours his love into our hearts by his Holy Spirit? This is divine love and it emanates form us and from an earthly viewpoint, it would appear that we are the source of that love. But quite to the contrary, God is the source off love, he pours it into our hearts and we merely shine it.
Isn’t it great to know that a God who can call light into existence before there was any matter to project that light can also call love into existence that we may project something that is far greater than ourselves.
All things are contingent upon God. God is, therefore, the ultimate non-contingent.
As such, God called things into being in such a way that function precedes form. Light before Sun. Love before Humanity.
But as light emanates from the Sun though God is the source, so love emanates from us and the Holy Spirit is the source.
God is real. His love is big. And we need them both.