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Posts Tagged ‘1 Timothy’

Ambition is not intrinsically unholy.

One may grant that human motivations are ever and always complex. Still, the apostle Paul recognizes that those who aspire to the task of shepherding and governing a community of Jesus-followers turns his ambition towards a worthy objective.

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. (1 Timothy 3:1 ESV)

Immediately, he launches into a formidable list of qualifications that would intimidate any eyes-open aspirant.

The bar is set high, because the life and health of the community is in play.

Yet Paul will not discourage ambition that is holy or even—given the aforementioned complexity—mostly holy.

He simply insists that the aspirant prove his credentials.

We do well in our time to pursue this same delicate balance. We rightly require that the community of Jesus be tended and shaped by people in whom the presence of Christ’s Spirit is without much trouble detectable. We immerse such folks in a realistic view of what will be required of them if they are to begin, and what discouragement and tears will fall upon them before they have finished.

Then we unleash them to the task, wishing for them that their assigned path had been a more level one, and quietly breathing our prayer that theirs will be remembered as lives in which love and faithfulness met together, righteousness and peace enjoyed a decades-long kiss.

For when fields are white unto harvest, workers are much sought after. The best of them are precious and few.

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For ears like the one attached to both sides of this writer’s head, ‘sound doctrine’ has an unpleasant ring.

The baggage is heavy. It seems the pious moniker of a narrow orthodoxy’s obsession with reigning in any inquisitive soul who might dare to follow the evidence where it leads. To a biblical scholar it hints at the wished-for sovereignty that is credited to more ‘systematic’ theologians over the messiness of the biblical text and its stubborn resistance to being reduced to, well, ‘doctrine’. Let alone sound doctrine, which suggests an even finer sieve. (more…)

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