Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from the Scripture
2 Pet. 1.13 – I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder…
I’ve thought a lot lately about those things which as a Pastor, I ought to be doubly aware we need to be reminded of. I’ve come to call them “the rolling essentials”. Truths which need to be visited and revisited often in preaching, teaching, conversation, admonition, etc. Things like the transcendence of God, and His rights of Creatorship over His creation. The need to recapture our self-identity as a “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, THAT YOU” – that we, might make much, in every place of the mercy and grace of God in Jesus Christ. The need for the new birth. The need for personal Bible study and prayer. The need for fellowship and corporate worship. To be engaged in ministering Christ to the lost, and believers by evangelism and our gifts. To be constantly putting on the character of Christ by the Spirit even as we are constantly putting off the works of the flesh. The massive task of evangelism. The joy of seeking the face of God, the deity of Christ, the Person of the Holy Spirit, justification by faith alone – and others.
But a passage which makes its way back into my mind and conversations with stunning regularity, is the account in John 11 of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. And the three things Jesus commands in that passage, as paradigmatic of a central thrust of local church ministry.
1. In verse 39, Jesus first commands them to “take away the stone.” Lost men and women, those still dead in their trespasses and sins, need the path cleared for them – for the time when Jesus speaks life to their souls. This is one of the rolls of sound apologetics. To clear away real objections and questions they are unable to navigate around themselves. And to take things which impede their ability to follow Christ. Things we put in their way. Man imposed obstacles to answering the call of God. It is a grievous thing to become like the Pharisees in Matt. 23, tieing up heavy burdens, hard to bear, laying them on people’s shoulders and then not lifting even the slightest finger to help them. We can make them jump through hoops of our invention, rather than simply calling them to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. May we not be found impairing them by our preferences and convictions, over the simplicity of the Gospel.
2. Jesus tells them secondly to “unbind him” in verse 44. This is the labor of the Church with one another. And it is messy business. People are brought to life, and emerge from sin’s tomb with the stench of their death still on them, and all bound up in things which prevent them from seeing, hearing, working, walking and speaking in freedom. Our job beloved, is to not fear getting our hands dirty helping them get unbound from their former sins. It is at once, the most unpleasant of tasks, and also the most rewarding. We cannot catch their sin. Their disease has been healed. But there is so much distasteful and disgusting to be delivered from. Caring, patient, careful unwinding and unwrapping and freeing up. It is great work. Godly work. Glorious work. Necessary work. Don’t treat them like it is an oddity that they came out of the grave in such condition. It is common to us all! Embrace them. Delight in them. Help them. Serve them. Unbind them.
3. Lastly, also in verse 44, He calls us to “let them go.” To make them disciples of Christ over disciples of ourselves. Good parents go about their jobs by best preparing their children to live well without them. That is our task in this matter. To help them get such a grip on following Christ, that they don’t need us to keep at it well. Instruct them in how you do it, but then do not cling so tightly they aren’t free to serve the Master except where, when and how you prefer it best. Make them His disciples. Make them His followers. Teach them how to love Him and cultivate their own relationship with Him. Do not make yourself a surrogate. Help them leave the nest, and follow Christ without you. So that when you are gone, they’ll be just fine – helping others do the same.
The pattern seems so simple. Perhaps it is. But it is Heaven’s work, and will still require Heaven’s help. The Spirit’s help. It must be done by His power and not our own. For His glory and not our own. For their best, and not our own.
And it won’t be long before we find out, just how sweet and blessed it is for us after all!