Ordination Questions, Part 9: The Ordination Agreement
Please see the introduction to Part 1 for the context of these questions…
o) You have agreed as a candidate for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and the most effective witness of the gospel, and in consideration of their influence as ministers, to make a complete dedication of yourself to the highest ideals of the Christian life, and to this end agree to exercise responsible self-control by personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity, integrity in all personal relationships, fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness, social responsibility, and growth in grace and the knowledge and love of God. What is your understanding of this agreement?
Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God more than any other subject. He spoke of it with a sense of urgency: it is already among us in embryonic form and growing all the time. It is like a mustard seed or a bit of yeast in dough. Jesus indicated that when we begin to grasp how amazing this coming Kingdom is, we will sacrifice anything to be a part of it. It is like a man who sold everything he had to buy a plot of land with buried treasure, someone who sacrificed everything for an amazing pearl.
Part of what he taught us to pray was, “…your Kingdom come, your will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Jesus’ plan was that He would form from His followers a community that would model for the world a new way of life in which the Kingdom of God would begin to break into our world.
In order for his Kingdom to come here on Earth, it first needs to break into my world: exercising responsible self-control by personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity, integrity in all personal relationships, fidelity in marriage, social responsibility, and growth in grace and the knowledge and love of God. This also includes: bad habits, gossip, worry, self-promotion, judgmentalism, avoiding confrontation, bending the truth to get out of trouble, holding a grudge because it feels good, impure thoughts, impure actions, getting cold and withdrawing from others, and getting stubborn or passive/aggressive.
Once the Kingdom has broken into my world, I can be a part of a healthy community that can embody the Kingdom of God here on Earth (where the truth of the Gospel becomes credible). My inability to deal with the shortcoming of my own life short-circuits the larger mission of Jesus.
Therefore, my understanding of this agreement is that I am not an “end user” of this commitment. I agree to dedicate my life to these ideals for the sake of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.