This Saturday, I will be presiding at the life profession service of one my parishioner’s who is a member of the Anglican Order of Preachers (Dominicans). The taking of religious vows has long been an option for Christians who wish to take their commitment to Christ and His Church seriously. Certainly, joining a religious order is not for the majority of Christians. Nor are those who are members of religious communities somehow innately superior to those who are not. The call to a formal and overtly sacramental life as a member of a religious order or as a priest is only for a few. This is because the ordinary work of the faith, the people through whom God will advance His Kingdom, are not supposed to be priests, religious, church staffers, but so called “ordinary” Christians.
The twenty year old college student and the sixty year old accountant are just as called by God as is the priest or the religious sister. The difference is merely in the details. All four persons are called to grow in prayer, in letting the Holy Spirit shape their characters, in witnessing to the Resurrection and in living out the mission of Jesus to love their neighbors as themselves. The difference relates to their personalities, their gifts, and the particular role God has directed them to play in the Body of Christ. We must avoid the heretical notion that only some are called to be holy, while others are called to do the grunt work. To be holy, is to be Christ-like. To be holy, is to be fully human. This requires that we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, which honestly, often feels like grunt work. Some of the holiest persons in the world have achieved their closeness with God and their open heartedness toward man by seeking God in the grunt work (whether that was washing dishes, folding laundry, or tending the wounds of the sick and the dying).
The phrase so and so “is a committed Christian” is an unfortunate reflection on the state of Christianity today. By all Biblical standards shouldn’t such a phrase be redundant?