Sorry for the long delay between posts. I've been doing a lot of reading and study lately, because next week I have the opportunity to sit down with some pastor/elders in the association of churches I'm involved with. And this isn't just a normal, friendly discussion. This is a test for me to become ordained in the association...so I'm doing my very best to not just read the bible, but to know it well and know where to turn for certain topics.
Due to my studies I have made some tough decisions over the past month. I haven't posted on the blog. I deactivated my facebook account. In short, I've made a lot of changes about how I spend my time and paying very close attention to decisions I make. And during this time I've come to realize that I can easily fall into the trap of wanting to make a personal statement, instead of simply living the life that God has called me to live.
My observations have led me to conclude that one of the most difficult things about being a pastor (or any Christian, for that matter) is the internal desire to want to make a statement, instead of just teaching/living what the Bible says. It's very easy to look at the Bible and think, "I just need to find a scripture passage that will back up [blank] thought of mine. Even in my own life I've noticed that when preparing a message or small group discussion it's very easy for me to have thoughts on what "I" want to communicate and looking for scripture passages that back up my thoughts.
But this isn't what we're supposed to do. Scripture wasn't given to us so that we can back up our own thoughts, statements and feelings (and history demonstrates that there has been great evil done by others who have done this). Instead, scripture was given to teach us about God, His attributes, and the understanding of redemption. That He is love, and that He is just. That He loves people, but absolutely hates the sin in our lives. In fact, Paul tells us in Romans how important the gospel message is, and then spends nearly 2 chapters early on focusing on the wrath of God and how none of us are righteous. This is never fun to read. Neither is Luke 18:9-14.
But I'm continually discovering that the more I submit myself and place myself under the authority of scripture, the more I'm discovering God's will for my own life. That scripture was given to us for very specific purposes. To read it. To study the culture and the people to whom each book was written. To pray about what I've read, knowing that the Holy Spirit will guide me to better understand even the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10).
My observations have led me to believe there are a lot of people in the world who don't read the Bible in this way. In fact, I've read passages to "Christians" in my office and had them look me in the eye and say, "I just don't agree with that." It's not me they're disagreeing with, it's God's word. There are statements in the Bible that many just don't agree with. Statements or truths about God that rub them the wrong way. And instead of dying to their prideful desires, they dismiss those passages and simply go on their own way...and may one day look for a different passage that will, to them, back up their original thought.
Have you experienced similar observations? Do you see Christians (perhaps even other churches) turning to passages in order to make a personal statement, or do most people genuinely place themselves under the authority of scripture, allowing God to make His own statement?