Devotional Thought of the Day.. err Night… well.. you know…
1 As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. 2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. 3 Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up. 4 For in your struggle against sin you have not yet had to resist to the point of being killed. 5 Have you forgotten the encouraging words which God speaks to you as his children? “My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you, and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you. 6 Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a child.”
Hebrews 12:1-6 (TEV)
522 Even on those days when you seem to be wasting time, in the prose of the thousand details of the day there is more than enough poetry for you to feel that you are on the Cross: on a Cross, which no one notices. (1)
In more than one way, I feel like I have been wasting time over the last few days. Nothing has been accomplished, tasks at home and church are going on without completion, and to be honest, the place I am is one of pain, betrayal, incredible frustration and where I am witnessing the brokenness of humanity in ways I’ve never seen before.
It seems like I am wasting time, just waiting to get off a plane and hug my wife and son, and celebrate the Lord’s sacrifice for me, for those I love, including my birth family, my adopted family, my church family, and for all the world. Sunday can’t come along fast enough, as we celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for us as we take and eat, and take and drink, the Body and Blood of Christ.
In the meantime there is this brokenness, both that I observe (tears, frustrations,) and the feeling like I am wasting time.
Even here, this is not death I am facing, it is not the shedding of blood, it is an incredible lesson in depending on God. It’s about fixing my eyes on Christ, about remembering His sacrifice, about realizing I have been united to that death, so that I can survive this life, even trying times such as these. I am driven to the cross to avoid the despair, to avoid the discouragement, for there, standing before my Lord, contemplating His love, in awe adoring Him because of His mercy – there I find the poetry, the craftsmanship that leads me in peace. That poetry Josemaria notes is seen in lives that are broken and healing, in lives that likewise only can find peace there.
The poetry, the poiema of God (the word in Eph. 2:10 which guarantees this isn’t wasting time), healing brokenness. That I can appreciate, in that I can find hope and peace, comfort and even joy. At the cross where He Bled – at the cross where we join Him, at the cross where all is made righteous.
Realizing that, many this LCMS convention is not as much wasting time as I think it is….
Still hurtful, still feel like I have been betrayed… yet God… is working – and that is enough for me to find rest in Him.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1980-1982). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
2 Euodia and Syntyche, please, I beg you, try to agree as sisters in the Lord. 3 And you too, my faithful partner, I want you to help these women; for they have worked hard with me to spread the gospel, together with Clement and all my other fellow workers, whose names are in God’s book of the living. 4 May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! 5 Show a gentle attitude toward everyone. The Lord is coming soon.
Philippians 4:2-5 (TEV)
10 By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my friends, to agree in what you say, so that there will be no divisions among you. Be completely united, with only one thought and one purpose.
1 Corinthians 1:10 (TEV)
1 I, who am an elder myself, appeal to the church elders among you. I am a witness of Christ’s sufferings, and I will share in the glory that will be revealed. I appeal to you 2 to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve. 3 Do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the glorious crown which will never lose its brightness.
1 Peter 5:1-4 (TEV)
Whenever on of us had a fit of anger or bitterness or behaved in a manner unbefitting a Christian, Father Gilbert asked him to go prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, so that he could examine his conscience face to face with Jesus and allow himself to be calmed by the Lord’s gentle presence. ( from God or Nothing A Conversation on Faith, by Robert Cardinal Sarah)
The idea of division in the church is not new. Yes, many denominations and associations (brotherhoods, synods, organizations, etc., there) are facing bitter division, my own synod included. There is a battle fo; there is a battle often seen as a battle for survival, and for what we treasure. At times, such a rivalry can be compared to a high school football game, with post-victory celebrations as full of expletives and spewing hatred. I’ve heard and read the promises that we will get them, that they will be crushed. And the despair of those who try to find hope in defeating those who were victorious.
I’ve been there, seen it, lived in, to my shame and grief I’ve been part of it.
And we all know better. Or if we don’t, we need to leave the leadership of churches to someone else.
I once jokingly said that the solution to reconciliation of any large group of Lutherans was to gather them in a room, ply them with free coffee, free Lutheran beverages and accidently lock the doors, chaining them closed. To only open them when every person in the room was able to commune and utter the words, “the Lord is with you” and bless each other with “Christ’s peace is with you” and take the sacrament together, without hesitation, and with joy.
Of course, I would rather do it without locking the doors, to see it freely happen. To be able to say God is with you to those who are in opposition, instead of saying the words from Romeo and Juliet, “the plague be on both your houses.” To quote Lincoln quoting Jesus, “A house divided cannot stand!”
The only hope is reconciliation. The only hope is decisions made, not on a majority vote, but on consensus.
The challenge is that such reconciliation means up giving up the idea of supervision by power and authority, and replacing it with service, with washing the feet of our enemies and adversaries, as seeing their salvation and reconciliation with God as the ultimate goal, as opposed to our group being in power.
And it means instead of going back to the bargaining table, or the floor of the debate, going to the altar, going to our communal refuge. As the Catholic Cardinal noted in his work, allowing Jesus to calm us with HIS presence.
Finding His mercy, finding His love and healing, finding that in being reconciled to Him, we are, miraculously, reconciled to each other. It is from that peace; it is from this point where we learn that washing each other’s feet is more powerful than any resolution. That the presence of Christ is more powerful than any blog, or any political machine. That true worship breaks out when mercy is the basis of our hope.
Anxious, upset, worried? I live in that as well… and the place to be rid of it has some bread and a cup of wine, that is so much more… it is our Christ, our Savior, our Lord, our Healer, our Brother.
Lord, break us and reconcile us, transform us by your presence, into your image. And may your glory, reflected from us as we heal, bring hope to the world. AMEN!
Devotional THought of the Day:
20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me because of their message. 21 I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me. 22 I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one: 23 I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me. John 17:20-23 (TEV)
9 The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised, as some think. Instead, he is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins. 2 Peter 3:9 (TEV)
20 Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! 21 Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (TEV)
19 We love because God first loved us. 20 If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. 21 The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also. 1 John 4:19-21 (TEV)
546 Pause to consider the holy wrath of the Master, when he sees that the things of his Father are badly treated in the Temple at Jerusalem. What a lesson for you! You should never be indifferent, or play the coward, when the things of God are treated without respect.
Dustin, as a Lutheran pastor you know very well the theological gulf that exists between Rome and the BoC. Why do you continue to flog this very dead horse?
A few days ago, I was asked the question in green above, on a facebook forum. In my devotions this morning, I came across the quote from St Josemaria Escriva, a man, a pastor who I admire, even as I note we don’t agree on a few important things.
And the four quotes have been swimming through my head since I was asked the question.
The four quotes from scripture are why I must “continue to flog this very dead horse”, The quote from St. Josemaria is the reason I will do so with a lot of energy, put into prayer, into study, yes and into writing blogs and having conversations with friends across denominational lines.
A comment about each of the passages, might help.
John 17: I don’t think we can read this prayer without seeing the desire of Christ and the Father. Read it carefully, our unity ( real unity) is sourced, not in compromise, but in the love of the Father. Even by praying for it publicly, Jseus is noting that it is going to require supernatural influence. (deistic cessationists might have a problem with this…) Yet it is in the very deep, personal, relationship we have with Christ, that we find ourselves in a relationship with each other.
2 Peter 3:9 Last I checked, God wanting all to come to repentance (to have the mind of Christ) is also a supernatural manifestation of His presence. All means all, it doesn’t mean “us, but not them”. This isn’t something you can try once, grab a t-shirt and give up on. This call to repentance is not something we can dismiss by saying, “they aren’t of our brand” or “we are an immigrant church and can’t reach out to other ethnicities.”
If God wants all to come to repentance, if this is His desire, then we will begin to desire that, the more time we spend in His presence.
On further thought. It doesn’t say God is patient with them…but us. Think about that. (Go – do it!
(no, I mean it – take 2 minutes to think that through)
(that was 10 seconds – go do it some more!)
2 Cor. 5: We’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation (that’s what “Churchese translations” do for this passage) Simply put, God desires greatly to reconcile with mankind, to restore a relationship with Him, a friendship, a deep, permanent, relationship where love and mercy are the norm.
Mathematically, if a=b and b=c, the c=a. Or, if you are reconciled to God, and “they” are reconciled to God, the you and they are reconciled. That can’t be denied. If they aren’t reconciled, your work, done in faith, is bringing this message of reconciliation to them, to give them this hope and celebrate it with them. Either way you are stuck, you are reconciled with them, or your vocation is reconcile them to God. This isn’t law, this is the work of God’s gospel in you.
Unless, of course, you need to be reconciled to God yourself….. in that case… let me let you know, God will remove every sin and all injustice that separates you from Him, and He desires to be in a relationship with you, and has made it possible. Enjoy it!
1 John 4: If this doesn’t provide the icing on the cake, I don’t know what does. We must continue to work that people would be reconciled to God, and the goal of any unity discussion or work starts and ends there. At the altar of God, in His presence, God and His people.
Working for unity between the Roman Catholic Church, and Lutheran Synods and churches is as much included in this as working to reconcile with that obnoxious person in the pew behind you, or the neighbor next door. If we don’t work for such, if we don’t care whether they are reconciled with God, how can we claim to love them? If we don’t love the, can we really claim to love the God who loves us?
Some may read this, and say I am a dreamer, that the RCC and Lutherans are both so stubborn that they will never change. If so, that is sad. As I am reading through the Book of Concord and the works from Trent and Vatican II, I see a lot of areas we can find enough common ground, to strive together toward unity in Christ.
Even if our leaders are afraid to breach these conversations, it is the vocation of pastors and priests, those who pastor the people of God and the people themselves to bring this message of reconciliation to God to the world. That will produce unity, even as we struggle with how that can be expressed, (and we should struggle with that, not just dismiss the differences)
And by the very word, and the promises given to us in the sacraments, this should become more and more part of our spiritual DNA. It should be part of our vocation, part of our prayers, striving to bring this message of reconciliation, which will reconcile us, even as it’s heard…..
LORD HAVE MERCY!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2055-2057). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
A plea for the end of kind of idolatry – “congregational-ism/denominational-ism/nondenominational-ism”
Devotional thought of the Day:
Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.. Ephesians 4:3-6 (NLT)
427 What a sorry state someone is in when he has marvellous human virtues but a total lack of supernatural outlook, because he will apply those virtues quite easily to his own selfish ends. Meditate on this.(1)
Yesterday, I found myself wanting to respond to a post of a friend of mine. I actually had already my counter to her point, with a carefully laid out response and reasoning to why she was wrong and I was right. Just before I hit the button, I realized that my post was wrong, not because it countered hers, but that it countered what I well know. She claimed that her church was the best, and I wanted to counter that it was fifth in line, right behind the 4 I’ve pastored.
There is only “one church”. or if you please “One Church”.
It’s the one we confess in the creeds, the one church through which the Holy Spirit calls and gathers people, where the waters of baptism cleanses them from sin, where the Holy Spirit works through word and the sacraments.
One church. Not just Concordia Lutheran, or Shepherd of the Valley, or First Christian, or Saddleback or even the Roman Catholic Church, but one church, Made up of sin-shattered, broken people who find restoration as they are united to Christ. We must recognize the brokennes, we need to talk through the issues, we need to mourn the division. We can’t just hide them, or say to each other, “we just have to agree to disagree” Otherwise the unity isn’t real…
There is still only one church, united in the death of Christ, brought together by the Holy Spirit in peace that only comes from knowing we exist in the presence of God. In the loving presence of God. That is where unity begins, at the cross, in the death of Christ Jesus.
I put the quote from St Josemaria in this post for a reason, the reason that if unity is to occur in the church, it has to be supernatural, it has to be because we trust in Christ to create it, and we realize He has. We just do not see it, perhaps because we focus so much on what divides us, and we get defensive if we think we are going to be proven wrong. Perhaps I should say I get defensive…. or I get offensive when I know I am right – and think that everyone else’s journey must be the same sort of twisted journey that I’ve had. Again the temptation is to make me the norm, (or for you to make you the norm) rather than making it Christ.
You see, when we forget that there is one church, we begin to make idols of our congregations, of our denominations, or even of our “non-denominatiolism”. We can acknowledge our errors, and the struggles, and the division, but we cannot triumph over others, or treat them as if somehow God doesn’t love them as much, or that they are inferior. ( My own denominaiton does this, when they say, “we may not be perfect, but we ar the best thing going” When we do this, we begin to think territorally, we begin to think what is best for our little part of the church, rather than what is best for all the churches around us. We horde talent, rather than seeking where God would use each of us. Let me give and example – Our church has a number of skilled keyboardists, and they all love playing with my music director. We had sent out one of our deacons, who is now a seminary student while serving as a student pastor. He needed a keyboard player… we had several… so it worked out that one of ours helped out. But what if churches with great sunday school staffs, or great youth programs or great senior programs actually invested their people in other churches? What would happen then?
What would happen if we treated the church as a whole, even if just within our own denominations to start? If we shared and worked together, and struggled with those who aren’t like us?
What if we heard Jesus’ prayer that we may be one, even as the Trinity is one? What if we heard Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus, and the church in Rome and the church in Corinth?
Can we stop the idolatry? Can we celebrate together in Christ?
Can we pray and strive together… working through that which divides us, realizing that what unites us is more important?
BTW – for people in my own beloved LCMS – this isn’t something new or odd. read the words below…
Though God desires that all congregations be orthodox, and though all heterodox communions exist only by God’s sufferance and contrary to God’s gracious will, still it is a fact that also in the heterodox communions there are believing children of God. The term “Christians” covers a wider field than the term “orthodox Christians.” Though Christ denies to the Samaritan Church the right of existence as a separate church organization (John 4:22), still He repeatedly acknowledged individual Samaritans as true children of God (Luke 17:16 ff; 10:33). Luther, too, never thought of making the orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, coextensive with the Una Sancta. Vigorously as he fights against the Papacy and expressly declares it an institution of Satan, he nevertheless does not doubt that God has at all times under the Papacy preserved for Himself a Church, yes, the elite of the Christians.31 Again, earnestly as Luther fights against Carlstadt, Zwingli, and their collaborators for their deviation from God’s Word, he nevertheless grants that there were also true children of God who, ignorant of the evil they were thus supporting, made common cause with these pseudo reformers (St. L. IX:44). Likewise our older Lutheran dogmaticians, “zealots for orthodoxy” though they were, nevertheless decidedly rejected identification of the Una Sancta Ecclesia with the orthodox Lutheran Church.32 The Fathers of the Missouri Synod declare it a calumny when the Lutheran Church is accused of identifying the Church of God with the Lutheran Church.33 They taught: If a person sincerely clings to the cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith, if he believes that God is gracious to him because of Christ’s satisfactio vicaria, he is a member of the Christian Church, no matter in which ecclesiastical camp he may be. By denying this truth one would overthrow the cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith, the article of justification. Walther: According to Rom. 3:28 and Acts 4:12 “the unconditional and sole requirement for salvation is fellowship with Christ through faith. The maxim, ‘Outside the Church there is no salvation,’ ‘He who has not the Church on earth for his mother has not God in heaven for his Father,’ is true only in this sense, that outside the invisible Church there is no salvation and no state of grace. It has only this meaning that ‘there is no salvation outside Christ’; for whoever is not in inward fellowship with the believers and saints is not in fellowship with Christ either. On the other hand, whoever is in fellowship with Christ is in fellowship also with all those in whom Christ dwells, that is, with the invisible Church. Accordingly, he who restricts salvation to fellowship with any visible Church therewith overthrows the article of the justification of a poor sinner in the sight of God by faith alone in Jesus Christ.” (Walther and the Church, p. 70.) Pieper, F. (1953). Christian Dogmatics (electronic ed., Vol. 3, pp. 423–425). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
(1) Escriva,Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1908-1910). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- Reformation Day, A Day I Pray Would Become… Obsolete. (justifiedandsinner.com)
- The Holy Spirit gives gifts… but not to individuals… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- The Holy Spirit in the Church (thepassionists.org)
- Can a Christian Leader let his people fail? He must! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Needing a Sanctuary… because we know He is there… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- To prepare servant leaders… (justifiedandsinner.com)
Discussion and Devotional Thought of the Day:
It is widely reported that there is sexual immorality among you, immorality of a kind that is not found even among gentiles: that one of you is living with his stepmother. 2 And you so filled with your own self-importance! It would have been better if you had been grieving bitterly, so that the man who has done this thing were turned out of the community. 3 For my part, however distant I am physically, I am present in spirit and have already condemned the man 4 who behaved in this way, just as though I were present in person. When you have gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus, with the presence of my spirit, and in the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 hand such a man over to Satan, to be destroyed as far as natural life is concerned, so that on the Day of the Lord his spirit may be saved. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NJB)
5 If anyone did cause distress, he caused it not to me, but—not to exaggerate—in some degree to all of you. 6 The punishment already imposed by the majority was quite enough for such a person; 7 and now by contrast you should forgive and encourage him all the more, or he may be overwhelmed by the extent of his distress. 8 That is why I urge you to give your love towards him definite expression. 9 This was in fact my reason for writing, to test your quality and whether you are completely obedient. 10 But if you forgive anybody, then I too forgive that person; and whatever I have forgiven, if there is anything I have forgiven, I have done it for your sake in Christ’s presence, 11 to avoid being outwitted by Satan, whose scheming we know only too well. 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (NJB)
This morning as I looked at facebook, I was a bit in shock at the response of some people to the election of the new leader of another denomination that shares the name Lutheran with my own. We are, in many ways radically different, but the mocking and deriding of their decision was sickening and to be blunt, sinful. Confronting sin, whether just perceived or actual, never justifies sinning in the confrontation of it. What is worse, Luther’s rants were used to justify their own mocking and ranting. Luther’s large catechism was also quoted, talking about the confrontation of sin. Here is the passage used to justify mocking and berating others:
All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.- The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.
But this brings to mind – what is the reason we confront and challenge sin, or in this case – practices or others who are in Christ that we know/feel/believe are not in line with scripture? We may truly believe they are in sin, and we may be right. If so, the reading from 1st Corinthians above tells us actions we can and should take- but it also informs us of the reason – to save their soul. If we understand Luther’s Large Catechism, that is the sense there as well, and warning others of the danger they face in following that direction. But the purpose is never to mock sinners, the purpose is never to taunt or increase the division that may exist. It should never be done with joy, but rather with sorrow and with great pain. Love will never rejoice over sin – either in approving it, or in calling for repentance. Instead it desires to see the damage of sin broken, the bonds that it has shattered. It always looks for ways to embrace the cross – for the joy that is awaited when reconciliation occurs. That has to be our goal. Anything else… well it is our own sin which should drive us to that very same altar of grace.
The reason to confront sin determines how it is to be done, whether in accord for Matthew 18 privately, or in the case of “Public sin” The law must be applied with the intent that when repentance is granted – the love and comfort of grace is poured out without hesitation, without thought. Every sinner, including those who have the task of confronting sin themselves, need to be at the altar, at the foot of the cross. That is where it is supposed to occur. (Paul isn’t kidding about that in First Corinthians, its not just a expression) The same goes when we challenge each others practices, as we discuss. DIvision caused by sin is a grievous thing – not something that should gain us kudos and “likes” as we mock them publicly, as if we were perfect in our thoughts words and practices.
The goal is unity in Christ, unity found in His mercy, in His grace, in His forgiveness and love. It is to call all sinners to receive repentance and faith and to find joy in our relationship with God.
We cry, Lord have mercy… but we
need to remember we all need it!
- Why I don’t hate “religion”, because it is His One, holy, catholic/christian and apostolic church (justifiedandsinner.com)
19 If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. 20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. 21 All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. 22 But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News. Philippians 2:19-22 (NLT)
Now may I who am myself an elder say a word to you my fellow-elders? I speak as one who actually saw Christ suffer, and as one who will share with you the glories that are to be unfolded to us. I urge you then to see that your “flock of God” is properly fed and cared for. Accept the responsibility of looking after them willingly and not because you feel you can’t get out of it, doing your work not for what you can make, but because you are really concerned for their well-being. You should aim not at being “little tin gods” but as examples of Christian living in the eyes of the flock committed to your charge. And then, when the chief shepherd reveals himself, you will receive that crown of glory which cannot fade. 1 Peter 5:1 (Phillips NT)
1. In his manner of life and his priestly ministry, does this man manifest a deep personal conversion to friendship with Jesus Christ? Has he made a deliberate, conscious, and irrevocable choice to follow Christ? Has he responded to Jesus’s question to the disciples, who were shocked by his command to eat of him, the Bread of Life—“ Do you also wish to go away?”— with Peter’s answer: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” [John 6.67– 69]?
2. Does this priest take preaching and teaching as among his primary responsibilities? Does he preach clearly, biblically, and with conviction? Can he make the Church’s evangelical proposal to unbelievers? Can he, with charity and understanding, teach, and if necessary correct, Catholics who have embraced notions contrary to Scripture and apostolic tradition? How many converts has this man made? How many Christians of other communities has he brought into full communion with the Catholic Church? How many baptized pagans has he brought back into a fuller communion with the Church? (1)
I have been primarily dealing so far this month with the issue of leadership in the church.
We just elected those who will work beside me as the leaders of this congregation, for the next two years.
- I am in prayer about, and met with other district delegates last saturday, the national convention of our Synod next month
- I just finished a two day seminar, the third of four, of a program in pastoral leadership
- Above you see the passages for the two Bible Studies last night. The first one is our midweek Bible Study, the second for the Bible Study of my elders.
So, it is little surprise when I took up Wiegel’s book this morning, that the topic was his understanding of the new standards for the leaders (bishops) of his church, the Roman Catholic Church.
But what find admirable, and indeed would love to see in my own denomination, is these first two standards Weigel sets, as our own concerns. (replacing of course – Catholic Church, with LC-MS)
What would happen if the leaders of our churches were first men whose lives were formed by a deep friendship with Christ. Whose character displayed such Christ-likeness and the servants heart we see in both Paul’s description of Timothy, and in Peter’s encouragement to the elders. This is the nature of the men we should have leading us. Men whose devotion and adoration of God, their treasuring of the first commandment, is the hallmark of their life. If they were less guided by their own intelligence, their own wisdom, their own inner compass, than by the very kind of love that showed they experienced and reveled in the love of Christ?
What would happen, if the second dominant characteristic was that they could communicate this love of God that they were so sure of, this friendship with God that so defined them, to others with great compassion, great skill, and could do it equally well with those in the Body of Christ, (both those that depended on God and those who rebelled against God) What would happen if he had a track record of bringing all into a deeper communion with God and God’s people – no matter whether they were mature, sacrificial believers, new believers, those who tried to “cafeteria plan” their faith, or those who were apathetic or antagonistic towards God. What if they were truly apostolic/missional in this way?
What if we had such men to pastor our church body, what if we had such a man to imitate, even as they stripped themselves of all perks and privileges of being “the leaders”.
What if our priorities were discipling leaders like this, with these two characteristics being more a priority than academics, or linguistic expertise, or knowledge or political savvy?
Lord Have mercy! Help us to be leaders like Timothy, like Peter… like Paul… as they cared like Christ cared… AMEN
(1)Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 122). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.