Saturday, 3 February 2018

For God and God alone

After a three month break from this blog, in part due to being busy and in part due to not having anything I wanted to write about, its time for another word or two.

I was quite struck recently reading some pages in a book I am using as my daily devotional, "Every Good Endeavour" by Tim Keller. It got me thinking about what is really important in my life as a Christian and what, if I am not careful takes priority. I wondered how often I moan to myself about all of the things I get to do that I often struggle with, especially when I spend a fair bit of time on them. If I list the things I get up to as a Pastor, there are plenty of things I love doing and a number that I often feel I would rather not be doing, but need doing.

Is my priority to engage with those with whom I don't agree and try to modify their theological positions? Is it to make my own views cast iron and waterproof? Is it to attend a lot of meetings to consider how things could be done better or handle lots of administrative tasks and legal requirements? Is it to be weighed down with time consuming, energy sapping arguments and attempts to change the entrenched views of others? The same could be applied to those whose difficult behaviour is entrenched and who brush aside any attempt to help them change or modify this. Or is my priority to spend time in community engagement or pastoral care or building teams or ...the list could go on but hopefully you get the picture.

Keller points out that all of our work (activity - my addition) should be carried out with an audience of one, God. If that is our focus for doing what we do, it will not matter what others think of my work, achievements or lack of them, it wont matter if I am more or less able, it wont matter if someone else has a better grasp on pastoral care or preaching or teaching or community activity or prayer or ... What does matter is that I do what I do for God.What matters is that you do what you do for God.

In an extraordinary passage related to 1st Century Roman's Paul says it doesn't matter if you are a slave or a slave owner, all Christians are called to recognise their equality before God and act from that understanding. Do what we do with God as the audience, no one else.

Jesus told us to go and make disciples ...

Part of my wrestling with scripture and of challenging my views by reading the views of others is so that I continue to know why I believe what I believe and can give a good case for that to any who want to know. It also allows me to modify my views in the light of the work and inspiration of others. It helps me make disciples, provided that I get them to wrestle with scripture as well.

Part of engaging with others with different views or difficult behavioural traits in church, is to work towards a church environment that  allows tolerance but does not mean anything goes. It hopefully makes it a better place to reach people and make disciples.

Part of the need to handle admin. and observe the law is make sure that the church is doing its best to observe the law and is run as smoothly as possible, to make sure other things can happen.Like reaching out and making disciples.

Part of trying to preach well, build pastoral teams, youth teams, children's work teams, is ... yes to pave the way for reaching folks and making disciples.

Part of community engagement or building teams and part of pastoral care is to make it possible to reach out and make disciples and develop those disciples so that they can go out and reach others and make disciples.

Am I good as all of these things? Well truthfully I can do them all but some I am better at than others.

The difficult part for any of us whatever our work or activity is not to measure ourselves against others. (We will probably be better than some and plenty will be better than us. That can drive us to overwork or a sense of not being able to achieve and so backing off). It is to simply offer to God our best endeavours. Guarding our time and energy well and using it as well as we can for God, who see's the good we do and for whom we do it.

I wonder, for those of you reading this, why do you do what you do? For whom do you really do it? Is your personal standing / recognition / value the thing that conditions what you do and how much time you give it? Or is it that whatever you do it is done for that audience of one, God?