I often run into what I call “the professional hazard of ministry.” When people find out that I am a minister, they typically want to ask some biblical question or about some theological issue. Almost without exception, the person asking doesn’t want me to answer what I truly know, they want me to repeat what they already believe. If I don’t repeat what they believe, then they can attack me as someone who “shouldn’t be in ministry” - thus the hazard. This field of landmines will sometimes get ministers in trouble, so the vast majority of ministers will either give some vague answer or attempt to deflect the question so they don’t have to answer at all. When ministers get together privately, it very frequent that they will mention some question posed to them and how they successfully (or unsuccessfully) dodged the issue. So the saying goes, “Tell them what they want to hear, not what you think.”
In the scriptural passage this Sunday, the Apostle Paul states that we should be ambassadors for Christ. I was thinking about this and the role ambassadors play in world politics. Frequently, the ambassador from one country will give a message to some official of another country. This may or may not be what the other official wants to hear. But (hopefully) this will begin a dialogue between the two countries which will result in agreement at some level. It is in this role that Paul directs us to follow. To be ambassadors for Christ to a world that really needs Christ in their lives.
We as ministers need to stop dodging questions. On the other side, people need to quit trying to trap their ministers in some sort of “heresy”. Otherwise, the whole system of Christianity will be stunted in its growth. If we don’t start giving honest answers and being open to other perspectives, then people are not going to be challenged to come to church. And then we all lose.
This blog consists of reflections written by the minister each week for the Sunday bulletin. We hope that you enjoy the musings!