This morning I was reading a few verses from the book of Hebrews (in the bible). It is a letter to Jewish Christians, mainly dealing with the differences between Judaism and Christian faith. It emphasizes how Jesus Christ is the centre of the faith and that he has taken the place of the ‘high priest’, who used to offer animal sacrifices and prayed on behalf of the people. Chapter 5 of the letter talks about the role and position of this high priest. Not just anyone could be a high priest, they were chosen and appointed (from a specific tribe and family). They acted on behalf of the people and were able to do this ‘gently’, as they were not perfect either. That is why they had to offer sacrifices for themselves as well.
As I read these verses, I intuitively replaced ‘high priest’ for ‘minister’ (someone who serves God in whatever way) and made it more feminine by replacing he and him for she and her. Then it looks like this:
For every [minister] chosen from among men [and women] is appointed to act on behalf of men [and women] in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. [She] can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since [she herself] is beset with weakness. Because of this [she] is obligated to offer sacrifice for [her] own sins just as [she] does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for [herself], but only when called by God (…). Hebrews 5:1-4, ESV
I don’t know if this is good theology, but it tells me that God calls weak and sinful people (including myself) to serve him. We are all called to do something in this world. We do not act on behalf of others in relation to God (as a high priest did), but every interaction we have with other people and with the world is coloured by this premise: we are beset with weakness. No man or woman is better than any other, however high their position or ‘calling’ may be. From this position of weakness and ignorance, we deal gently with ourselves and others. We all need the grace of the ultimate High Priest who not only offered his own life as a sacrifice but can also symphatize with our weaknesses.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
So whatever I am called to do today, I can do it from a position of grace towards myself and others, knowing that there is a High Priest in heaven, who knows what it’s like to be human.