Thursday, November 29, 2007

I am not a second-class citizen in the kingdom of God!


I sent the letter below to the Salvationist and haven't had a response... two issues have come and gone... kind of figure my letter isn't going to get published > so I thought I'd put it on the ol' Nanolog... see what my friends think:
With regards to the report on this year's Territorial Congress in Glasgow.

You mention in the report that "Commissioner Banks led an extended time of prayer for officers, cadets and those called by God."

May I point out that the people "called by God" were called to Officership. At no time did Commissioner Banks extend the prayer time to people, like me, who acknowledge their calling in the Army but are not called to Officership. I was hurt by this as I work hard in my Corps and in my Division... as well as in my community... for God and for the Army without a Rank or Badge. I pan my guts out and I am not looking for thanks but would have appreciated some prayer.

All Commissioner Banks did was perpetuate the division of clergy and laity... which is nonsense as we are all called to serve... in the Priesthood of ALL believers. I am not alone in this opinion - a lot of "unbadged" were similarly offended by this clear division.
I believe in the Priesthood of ALL believers... the Priesthood in not exclusively for the "professional" Christians with positions, titles, remits and authority as it was in the Old Testament times. I am a Priest... are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
1 Peter 2: 9-10 (The Message)

This verse isn't specific in that it doesn't focus on one group over another... Peter emphasizes the plural YOU. He doesn't say "some of you are this and some of you are that" > he says YOU.

We are all God's instruments to do His work... We are all CALLED to be the salt and light in this world.

This is why I was offended by the deliberate split of clergy [officers] and laity [everyone else] > I am called to serve my Lord and my neighbour... but as I am not called to officership... I was excluded.

Don't get me wrong : Officers > Candidates > those called to Officership : need our prayers but so do the ordinary folk... the common man or woman who works for God wherever he/she is placed > the common man or woman who brings a wee bit light into the darkness > who demonstrates the love of Jesus and the Kingdom of God right where he/she is.

Where were the prayers for folk like me?

Who is on the frontline in the spiritual war? The high-ranking church "official"... or... the Officer on the street with the homeless person... or... the student at University faced with temptation wherever she looks... or... the business man trying to bring a wee bit of the Kingdom of God to his open-plan office..?

The answer is ALL OF THEM > why then single the "professionals" out for special attention?

If you want a passive congregation... then continue to promote this split > maintain the status quo. Afterall, you reap what you sow.

If you want a proactive and passionate congregation... a people who do not need permission... then remove this split > do not perpetuate this split any longer and reject the status quo.

I'll finish with a piece of advice my papa Tom Finlay used to say to me:
We are all Jock Tam's son's bairns!
We are all created in the likeness of God... and are ALL called to His service to do His work and speak out for Him.

I am not a second-class citizen in the Kingdom of God!

I would welcome comments from my friends who are Officers, Candidates or just common folk who roll their sleeves up and reject the status quo.

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Jonathan Blundell said...

it seems that in our church (maybe our country) there are so many more in your shoes who feel that because they're not "officers" or "leaders" they don't need to step up and they don't need to worry about God's call for each of us to be a part of the priesthood.
we've learned or maybe taught ourselves that if we don't have the right title we're not called for anything so we just sit on the sidelines and hope others will do the work for us.

Anonymous said...

Why do you need officers at all? Other churches do just fine with "lay" pastors and management teams... surely the most efective way to promote equality among believers would be to remove the "higher" levels?

Unknown said...

Absolutely right Thomas, there are no second class citizens in the kingdom, and speaking as an officer I consider myself no better than anybody else: I have simply responded to a specific call from God to a specific task. I value the specific prayers of the people, but never to the appearance of under valuing the 'laity'. Let me just say how much I value your ministry in our church.

Anonymous said...

I think, Thomas, that folks often think and say things as much out of habit as anything else and often don't see the potential to "cause harm" unintentionally.

Again, you have raised an important point which deserves serious thought and response from all conscientious Christians.

Basically, we need to consider the people listening to what we say and question the impact of our words/ messages/ behaviours, etc from the hearers' point of view.

It is a pity if the Salvation Army, known for care and compassion for people they minister to, is not sensitive to the needs of every individual. Also, it is a pity that you did not get a reasoned response.

I write in a spirit of concern as a fellow Christian and am fully aware of the problems facing all Churches. We need to rally to a comprehensive call to pray for and support every blood-bought believer in Christ. As you've often said Thomas, "The enemy is out there!"

Love to all, Dad M.

Anonymous said...

Hey TM,

I felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders when i read your post. As you know mate i have the same feelings about this issue as you do.

Good on you for taking it to the Salvationist. Again, dissapointed that they didn't print it as they could have gave the army an oppertunity to respond to the issue bey hey ho. Some editiors can be picky ;o)

God bless ya mate,



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