The Rectory: Beware of Dogs

Many a pretty village has a quaint old house called The Rectory or the Old Vicarage. Sometimes a rector or vicar still resides therein, but usually it’s occupied by well-to-do-folk who can afford to maintain so rambling a house when the dear old Church of England couldn’t. There’s often wisteria growing up the walls and pretty roses in the garden. Lovely.

Many country vicars are well-educated, earnest men and women who fully participate in village life. They preside over the fete and other civic affairs, playing an active part in the communities to which they have been called. But is this what being Christ’s minister chiefly entails? I know folk who have attended their parish church for decades who have never really heard, much less understood, the gospel of grace. Their vicar has just been a well-spoken social worker, community pillar or joiner of couples, not an evangelist or curer of souls. 

In Philippians 3, Paul warns of religious leaders who perform ceremonies (in this case circumcision), but sidestep the good news of the Cross:

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!

Some dogs are fierce and terrifying, others are warm and cuddly, but dogs they are. Beware of meek and mild religious leaders with their simpering looks and inoffensive words; even poodles may foul the pavement.