Monday, August 11, 2008

A Plea for Faithful Ministers

“The Nazis said there's a problem with the Jewish body, so let's find a solution. And, these groups are saying there's a problem with the Jewish soul. We have another solution. It's called conversion. You have to be like us or we can't love you. If you're not like us, you're going to go to the eternal barbecue. This is a nefarious, insipid message, which has led to inquisitions, auto-da-fe, pogroms, expulsions, and ultimately the Holocaust.”

What is this is this nefarious, insipid message that this person is condemning? Is it condemning the beliefs of jihadist Muslims? NO! Is it Neo-Nazis? NO! Is it the hate-filled speeches of Ku Klux Klansmen? NO! This is the response of a rabbi to the SBC’s emphasis on evangelizing Jews. He also said, “Racist beliefs lead to racist action, and Christian anti-Judaism leads to racial anti-Semitism. Every historian knows that to be true, and that's why these beliefs are dangerous. Who would have thought that in a new millennium ...we would once again see the prevalence of spiritual dictatorship and totalitarianism?” This rabbi equates Christian evangelism with the atrocities of the Holocaust, and his perception is that we are despots presiding over a new spiritual totalitarian regime.

We should not be surprised, after all, our former Vice-President, Al Gore, delivered a speech in which he called Christians “the extra chromosome right wing.” For years, the mass media has portrayed Christians as red-in-the-face, ignorant, Bible thumpers. Obviously, our culture is a hostile environment in which to minister.

In 2 Timothy, Paul seeks to encourage Timothy to be faithful in his ministry even in troubling times. Paul discloses that many have fallen away from the truth already (vs. 1:15, 2:17, & 4:14, 15). He cautions that more difficult days and evil men are coming, and he predicts a day when pupils will find teachers who “tickle their ears.”

Timothy ministered in culture hostile toward his beliefs. How can we be faithful in a culture whose highest virtues are tolerance and inclusivism when we preach absolutes? How can we be faithful in a culture that reveres secularism and despises Christianity, which teaches that faith must influence every area of life or its not real faith? In 2 Timothy 1:8-14, Paul gives us three keys for a faithful ministry.

The first key is that we must embrace the gospel - "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord" (2 Tim. 1:8 NKJV).

To be ashamed of the gospel means to be apprehensive over one with whom you are associated with.

At one church that I attended my wife had some concerns about the nursery. She addressed these concerns to the pastor, and I went with her to talk with him. While physically I was there to support her, I shied away when the pastor did not agree and let Shelley go on her own. I held back and did not want to be associated with her complaints. I was ashamed. I did not embrace her ideas or goals.

As pastors and leaders, we can never act this way towards the gospel. We should embrace it whole-heartily no matter the cost. This is true whether the cost is popularity, comfort, or the loss of one's position. After all, Paul endured prison for the sake of the gospel and the salvation of God's elect.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

PS - Other keys will be presented in the future.

No comments: