We “westerners” (the US and much of Europe) have spent a considerable amount of time in working out our theology we have built all of these very logical categories for theology. We have committed ourselves to the propagation of those categories such as harmatology, soteriology, anthropology, eschatology, etc… and while there is nothing wrong with those categories in general their is a tendency in the use of these very categorized logical theological concepts to become myopic and dogmatic in our understanding of God and our relationship with Him.
I am often critical of the church and of pastors, and I believe there is much to be critical of. However, I want to be clear that because I spend a lot of time thinking about how pastoral and church ministry should be done and am not afraid to espouse my views I do so not with a heart to stand and point the finger or condemn, but to call us to a better way, God’s way to the very best of my understanding.
I have been in ministry and have felt the burden of ministry, and at this point in my life I have the opportunity to stop and reflect on the mistakes and successes of those ministries and it is my hope that in my future ministries I do it better.
In the ministries in which I have worked I often found myself exhausted and yet the pace of ministry refused to slow down for me to find rest. This seemed a never ending problem and one that I often did not deal with well.
I think that one of the biggest issues for the minister is to try to be the superstar and take on everything. We take on so many burdens that I do not know Jesus ever intended us to take on. We are all familiar with Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus tells “all who are weary and heavy laden” to come to Him. It is a favorite passage for Pastors and ministers to teach to others, but I would suggest that it may be one of the most important passages for the minister to take to heart.
Good ministers are often overcome with the great responsibility of their position. We take on the burdens of others and tend to be hard on ourselves for our failures and our fundamental inability to make people change. We feel the burden for the souls that have been placed under our care and want to represent the Word of God faithfully. The demands of ministry are seemingly never ending; truly the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. We often have a tendency to take this burden on truly believing we have to do everything, and in fact that may be the expectation of many of the people whom surround us.
When we as ministers feel that burden then maybe it is time for us to take pause and recognize that it is time for our souls to find rest in Jesus. Hand over the heavy burdens of ministry and allow Jesus to replace them with His burden which is light.
I think it is time not for so much a new theology but a larger theology. Our theology tends to answer lots of head questions about God, we should be answering heart questions. We talk about the soul in our theology and its salvation or damnation, but do we have a theology of soul care?? or is our soul only need to be saved, and not cared for? We talk about the church as a community in our ecclesiology but do we have a theology of community? We talk about salvation and Christianity and say that it is a relationship not religion, but do we have a theology of relationship?
It seems to me that not only are these questions that we need to answer but they may be the more important questions. It is time for us to build a theology that is bigger, one that informs the way we live on a daily basis. The Bible never gives categorized theological statements, it deals with the lives of the followers of God. It is God revealing himself to His people and answering questions about what I should do here and now. It is God interacting with His people, and through looking at that interaction He intends us to learn how to interact with Him and with each other.