During my morning message yesterday, I noticed two of my congregation members weeping. After the service my Co-pastor sat with them, presumably to comfort or counsel them. Immediately my heart broke with thier hearts.
The experience brought home to my heart how critical it is for us pastors not to dispose of our duties as hired shepherds. There are real needs, hurts and struggles our people bring with them to church. One of many opportunities we have as preaching pastors is to shine the gospel light into the dark corners of our hearers.
I am thankful for my friend and Co-laborer who RECOGNIZED the need and initiated a moment of ministry in the lives of these two precious people. I am humbled to think that the Lord wants to use me to bring hope and Help to God’s children. It’s sobering to hold such responsibility. My prayer this morning was that the Lord would help me be faithful to thier souls.
Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Luke 3:5-6
Recent outbreaks of violence between law enforcement and protestors have re-ignited the smoldering racial tensions in America. They have also reawakened in me a consciousness of how the Church is called to be promotors, even planters, of the Kingdom of God on the earth. We don’t seem to be doing very well.
It is obvious that we are in need of racial healing in America. That healing will not come through political, judicial or legislative channels. Only when reform is championed by the Body of Christ will there be peaceful healing. Only the Kingdom of God has the necessary twin values of peace and justice. We have witnessed the results when people take matters into their own hands. We get more injustice. And retribution has never brought healing. Only forgiveness and peaceful reconciliation can bring the healing we need.
Here is where the Church has a message straight out of the Gospel of Christ. The values of the Kingdom of God which the Church is to champion can bring healing to our communities again. Here are those values:
1. Healing starts with me. I cannot expect the world to change until I change. I must be responsible for my own behavior.
2. Healing is spiritual. It begins with a change in my heart–a change of my attitude, my desires and my values to align myself with the truth of the Kingdom. There must be both forgiveness sought and forgiveness extended for understanding and healing to be reborn.
3. The Kingdom of God acknowledges the value of the weak, the helpless and the sick. It demonstrates mercy, compassion and generosity to those in need. Who are the weak which the Kingdom of God in me can impact?
4. The foundation of the Kingdom of God is Love–for friend and enemy (Matthew 5:38-47). This is an uncommon and inhuman love. It does not come from a good education or cultured environment. It comes from a saving relationship with the crucified and risen Christ.
Only when Christ returns and establishes His kingdom will conditions be perfect again. But until then, it is up to us to plant the seeds of His Kingdom in broken hearts so all men will see the salvation of the God.
One criticism of the gospel I have heard is that it’s claims are unrealistic, it’s answers are too easy and unsophisticated and that it fails to account for the complicated rawness of real life. Critics argue that Christianity’s message fails to account for real life scenarios and complications. They contend that easy believism is too easy and life isn’t as straightforward as we make it sound.
But the kind of issues the gospel of Christ addresses are those of inner, spiritual conflicts, relationship challenges and transformation of behavior patterns. These are not easy problems. In fact most of contemporary sociology and psychology struggle to resolve these common human conditions. It just so happens that Christ’s diagnosis (human sinfulness) is more accurate, and His prescription (repentance, faith, discipleship) are more effective.
Far from offering straw men and easy, unrealiatic solutions to life’s riddles, Jesus offers both a clear perspective and a realistic hope. While our presentation of the gospel may come across as over simplification of the problem, the answers themselves are not empty or hollow.