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A Second Look at How the Church Should Deal With Sinners and Even Evil.

Featured imageDevotional/Discussion thought of the day

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?
28 “ ‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“ ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29 “ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn. ”(Mt 13:24–30) NLT

792    Duc in altum.—“Put out into the deep.” Cast aside the pessimism that makes a coward of you. Et laxate retia vestra in capturam—“And lower your nets for a catch.” Don’t you see that, as Peter said, In nomine tuo, laxabo rete—“At your word I will lower the net,” you can say, “Jesus, in your name I will seek souls!”  (1)

I’ve often read the parable above as being about the end of times.  It is an eschatological treasure after all, and challenges those with complicated end times theories.

But this parable has a heavy focus on ministry as well, about how we are to deal with evil and that which doesn’t seem to be correct or dare I say kosher.  To hear this lesson is challenging, because it goes against conventional wisdom, It goes against leadership rules and all those ideas about dealing with alligators in the church.  These people may be your enemies, your adversaries, even your pains in the neck.  But they have been given to you.

To hear Jesus’ words here takes a level of courage, even a level of courage that could be taken for complacency. It actually takes more work, more pastoral concern, more leadership, more devotion and obedience.

Leave them in the field you care for, letting God determine whether they are weeds or wheat at the end of time..

Continue to share with them both their absolute need for Christ, and His mercy that overwhelms that need.

If they walk away, so be it, but don’t push them out of vineyard.  That isn’t your call.  It isn’t within your pay grade to uproot them and burn them in the furnace, or at the stake. Even in times of church discipline, keep them in sight!  Minister to them, plead with them to be reconciled to God. (1 Cor 5 – note it doesn’t say reconcile themselves to God  – He still does the work)

This is going to take courage, and obedience.  it is going to require hearing the Master’s voice, and trusting that He knows what He is doing, what He has commissioned.  It may take sacrifice, and yes, more than a little pain  It will take creativity and ingenuity as you minister to them,  But since when is ministry about the ease of our jobs?

Even as you call them to repentance, even as you shepherd them in view of the others growing in the fields that will be harvested, you need to love them. This is exactly what Peter is talking about, as he mentions the Lord’s long-suffering nature, not willing that any should perish….

So hear His voice… listen to His words… care for those that you think may be weeds..Seek the salvation of the souls He brings into your sight… and love them. ..

God might surprise you both!

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1828-1831). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Assets or Alligatiors?

Devotional thought of the Day:

St. Paul wrote:

 God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. 7 Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! 8 The variety is wonderful: wise counsel clear understanding   1 Corinthians 12:6-8 (MSG)

He then goes on to describe a small list of the gifts the Holy Spirit uses in us, to be a blessing to our congregations, our communities and each other – and indeed the gifts are wonderful, and practical, even the ones that… hmmm… take a while to appreciate.

There are books out there, that advise church leaders on how to deal with “well-intentioned alligators”.  The people that eat up our time, and often – our patience.   They can cause a church to struggle as well – not just the leadership – and the age old question is, how do we handle them?

Some advise getting rid of them, for the sake of the others, for the peace of the church.

Some advise doing exorcisms, (just joking.. well.. sorta) Some would protect their pastors from them, much as a executive secretary deals  with those who would bother a CEO.   There are a myriad of options, including tolerating the behavior, or at least no confronting them   There may be another option, consider these words…

“Never say of anyboy under you he is no good, for it s you are are no good as you cannot find a place where he will be of use…”   (Escriva, The Furrow)

Here is a challenge for all who are pastors, or who assist pastors with pastoral leadership (elders, deacons, deaconesses, etc).  Those alligators have a purpose (even if it is to be thorns in the flesh!) and it is a challenge to find the right place.  Rarely, as frustrations set in, that might mean bringing them to some other shepherd for pastoral care – that they can serve and be served.  But there is a place for everyone in God’s church, and yes, it is the responsibility of leadership – not the individual, to help guide them into that ministry.

In other words – alligators are assets. They can be blessings, they can be an integral part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church (note no caps there).  They are, like us, people who God has worked on, and is working on, just as He is us.  See them from that perspective first…

and know you walk with God, even as you strive with Him, and with men.

Lord Have mercy, and may that mercy include empowering us to show mercy as well!

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