5 Aug 2010
Dear Pastor, what is the perception of your perspective? What does your preaching reveal? Where do you see the center? The world finds its center in self. The Word finds its center in the LORD.
Much of your flock has the subconscious belief that they are believers because of the benefits to themselves. [ they may believe that they have a lot more to do with the transaction than is true ] They further believe the activities that flow out of their faith should be premeditated for their pleasure. Their worship should be pleasing to them. Your preaching should be helpful to them. It should make them feel good. Perhaps you will give them some shortcuts in life to avoid some pain and suffering.
Where is the living sacrifice? Where is the selfless service to our King? Where is the presentation of the benefits of suffering? Have we lost the perspective of the great and matchless blessing given to each of us at our new birth? Do we no longer sense that we are desperate debtors? From where comes the thinking: what has God done for me lately? We study the doctrines of Paul but where is the encouragement to follow his example? Look with me for a moment at a familiar passage:
Acts 20:22-24 (NASB95)
22 "And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there,
23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.
24 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
Where in our churches today is Paul’s commitment to serve our Savior to earthly detriment? Where can we find this preaching?
The polite self-promotion perspective comes not from the Word of God. It comes from the world or perhaps even yet darker places. This selective softening of the truth is making our churches eunuchs in our communities. Scores of social self-benefits will not bring glory to our great God. They simply craft our churches into special interest religious country clubs where self is at the center.
Pastor, where is your center? In this day of church hopping do you fear the preaching of raw truth will drive the faithful away? Jesus said: “seek FIRST the kingdom of God.” He did not make exception for our own fears, for the felt needs of growing a church, of keeping our flock happy, or smoothing things out. Jesus used the storm. This His primary criticism of His disciples throughout His ministry time with them: “O ye of little faith.”
Your job is impossible. It is close to the challenge of getting a camel through the eye of a needle. You are not supposed to be able to do this ministry. Our Lord wants to do it through you. He said: “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” This of course is only true when we “ take His yoke upon us” The intimacy that is pictured by this yoke is required “equipment” for this work. Just as an NFL player would not think of playing in a Sunday afternoon game without his helmet, as a pastor you must not think that you can minister in the Name of Jesus in Spirit and in truth without spending time with the Master. If Jesus needed regular and extended times with His Father, then how much more we? God promised you power! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is potential in your life. Have you experienced this power? Has God lied to you? Do you desire this power? We will find the power in the same manner that Jesus did. We must spend time with our Father.
We cannot run in the power of our own flesh at ninety miles per hour and expect the power of the Holy Spirit to flow out of our preoccupied heart. When do we see in the Holy Scriptures that Jesus was running? Yet how often do we see He waited? How often is it reported that He prayed? It seems like Jesus spent so much time in prayer that is a wonder He could get anything done. Maybe we should look more carefully. Maybe we should try to pattern our lives after His. Perhaps this would lead us into His yoke. Maybe we would find there the real power that He has promised. Oh, Lord give us eyes from You that we may see.