Training in worldliness

Eugene Peterson doesn’t like being thought of as nice but insignificant. When an executive shakes his hand after church and says, “This was wonderful, Pastor, but now we have to get back to the real world,” Peterson bristles. He isn’t taking this seriously, he thinks.

If he realized that I actually believe the American way of life is doomed to destruction, and that another kingdom is right now being formed in secret to take its place, he wouldn’t be at all pleased.

Yes, I believe that. I believe that the kingdoms of this world, American and Venezuelan and Chinese, will become the kingdom of our God and Christ, and I believe this new kingdom is already among us. That is why I’m a pastor, to introduce people to the real world and train them to live in it. [from The Contemplative Pastor; page 28)

Why are we pastors? Which world are we training our students to live in?

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence (Ephesians 1:20-23; The Message).

Such a calling requires hard work, ingenuity, prayerful experimentation. Peterson calls it subversive. What does it look like in your group?

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