09: The Disappointed Pastor – Thought Starters
avatar

Carol knew the nausea would go away, but it was too much to endure sitting in the pews. At home she slept a while and then turned on the computer and within a couple of hours she was listening to Pastor Randy Roberts preaching at the Loma Linda University church.1

What was that he was saying? What?

Pastor Roberts was speaking with urgency. He was saying that no doctrine, no teaching, no lifestyle issue, no Scriptural interpretation—nothing—was as important as the command to love one another.

He dug in deeper. Righteousness by faith.  A key doctrine. A vital cornerstone of Seventh-day Adventist theology. But not as important as loving one another. Eating and drinking the right things, living healthfully. Urgent, yes, but nowhere as urgent as our need to show love to one another. Living without transgressing the law. A noble objective. But useless unless there is love. Not just love to those who believe as we do, but love to the Buddhists, the Muslims, the pagans, the atheists, the Christians of every faith. As much as we like being right and as firmly as we believe we hold the truth, it’s as flimsy as gauze in the fire compared to the power of love for all.

Carol asked God to send the Holy Spirit. “Every time I feel that my version of truth is critical to the salvation of others,” she prayed, “remind me that it is nothing compared to Your love. Fill my heart with Your love and help me to show that love to others.”


[Thought Questions for Paul’s Pastoral Appeal November 23, 2011]

1.     The passion of Paul.  How important was correct doctrine to Paul? Why did he earnestly plead with early Christians on issues such as salvation by faith and circumcision? Would you go so far as to say that Paul was passionate about the way the gospel works? What changed in Paul’s tone (Galatians 4:12-20) after his fervent pleas to the New Testament church to understand truth? Did Paul’s role in the leadership of the church change? If not, what did change that made it possible for Paul to speak of matters more important even than these intriguing doctrinal issues?

2.     Be like me.  Was Paul serious? Did he actually long for every Christian to copy him in every way? Or is there more than one way to be “like” another person? Can you be “like” someone else without knowing that person? How well did Paul know his first converts in Galatia? What was his attitude towards those he had brought into the church? What could be the greatest possible concern on their behalf? Do you ever agonize over the waywardness of family members or friends you have nurtured in the faith? Does the plea, “Be like I am” fit the relationship you have towards them? How can we keep such a request from being self-centered?

3.     Paul the example.  Wasn’t one of the primary functions of the incarnate Christ to serve as our example? Then why should Paul stand up before believers in the apostolic church and beg them to follow his example? What aspects of Paul’s life demand our wholehearted emulation? Was it really Paul’s behavior he was imploring the early Christians to imitate? If not, what was the aspect of his Christian life that was worthy of following? Which is easier, to obey by being or to obey by doing? What does God want most of us to do? Why?

4.     Playing with words.  Do you find it frustrating when Paul asks his listeners to be like him and then turns around and says they’re already like him? Do you think his whimsy with words was obvious to his listeners? Did he reserve a big part of his heart for appreciating his church members? If so, what did Paul seem to appreciate most? In what way did Paul “contextualize” the gospel in the book of Galatians? Do you think we should do more of that (contextualizing) today? Why or why not?

5.  Falling away. Do you sense from reading verses 15-16 of Galatians 4 that Paul is feeling spiritual pain from the change in the believers’ attitude towards him? Why? What had changed? Are changes in loyalty an inevitable result of the passage of time? Is apostasy a natural consequence of being human? If not, then why is it so common? Or are we free from apostasy in God’s church today? Was it lack of faith by the Galatians that caused Paul to suffer from physical ailments? Could God have healed Paul and made him stronger than before? Why do you think He didn’t?

6.    The truth.  Have you ever encountered truth that hurt? Are you a person who delivers the truth no matter how much pain it may cause? Or one who holds back and would rather say nothing than risk hurting another person? What was Paul’s attitude towards truth and love? Did he prefer truth to love? Do you and I value love more than truth? Or truth above all? Why is it so difficult to strike a balance between truth and love? In terms of love and truth, what seems to trouble Paul most about the Galatian believers at this time?

7.   Contradiction.  Does God reject all controversy? Is it wrong to express disagreement with a fellow believer? Have you ever known someone who seemed to have a contradiction on the tip of his (or her) tongue no matter what is said? Do arguments always hurt? Is it wrong to question what Paul is saying in his epistle to the Galatians? Can God sanctify our questions so that even our uncertainties draw us closer to Him in love? Is so, how?

  1. Farmer Growing Heart Shaped Plant Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com
Share Button

Comments

09: The Disappointed Pastor – Thought Starters — 6 Comments

  1. Any soul winner must learn from what CHRIST did, HE became a servant even though HE knew HE was not a servant. A soul winner should first learn and understand his people, meet them at their level then nurture them to maturity. A soul winner never gives up he or she must persevere all challenges with the love to win that particular soul to CHRIST whatever the cost. (This teaching aids are a blessing I that GOD for you)

    Like(0)
  2. Really this is touching, i am one of the people who is facing challenges of contrudictions within the church and outside the church(s.d.a). But what i know is that God is helping me to overcome those challenges especially with my fellows who are newly s.d.a. convency.

    Like(0)
    • Rebecca, be thankful, you acknowledge your weakness, and you know what the problem is the spirit of GOD is leading you. Matthew 7:7 says "Ask, and it shall be given you seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you: Vs.11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your FATHER which is in heaven give good things to them that ask HIM." (keep asking,seeking and knocking GOD will help you to overcome. Focus your mind totally on JESUS, what HE did while on earth is what we should do all of us as HIS followers.

      Like(0)
  3. "...He was saying that no doctrine, no teaching, no lifestyle issue, no Scriptural interpretation—nothing—was as important as the command to love one another.

    He dug in deeper. Righteousness by faith. A key doctrine. A vital cornerstone of Seventh-day Adventist theology. But not as important as loving one another. Eating and drinking the right things, living healthfully. Urgent, yes, but nowhere as urgent as our need to show love to one another. Living without transgressing the law. A noble objective. But useless unless there is love. Not just love to those who believe as we do, but love to the Buddhists, the Muslims, the pagans, the atheists, the Christians of every faith. As much as we like being right and as firmly as we believe we hold the truth, it’s as flimsy as gauze in the fire compared to the power of love for all...."
    -----------------------------------------------------------

    This world is not a "love boat" and never will be one! Yes love is the greatest force on earth and we should manifest it as much as possible but it's also an "H-bomb" in the hands of some. Gal.5:14 tells us, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Yet we hardly ever heard of "mass loving". Only "God, so loved the world... ." Certainly the greatest act of life was in the name of love. However, we do hear of "mass killings" and that from the beginning of earth's history: from king David to nearer us in 2 World Wars. We live in an unstable world where evil and good co-exist and constantly oppose but God's dynamic is love.

    The last 6 of the 10 Commandments: could sum up as,"Love thy neighbour as thyself" we often say and find the echo in Mark 12:31 "... 'Love your neighbour as yourself', a blue print attitude for past, present and future times.
    Some label a complement,"The Golden Rule", which admonishes to do unto others as we would have them do to us.
    John affirms,"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." ... 1John 4:8
    Loving our fellowmen and doing what is right qualify us to be called, Children of God.
    Paul writing to the Romans said, "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law."
    In 1 John 2:9-11 we read:

    "9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them."
    Leviticus 19:18 tells us, "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. ... "

    How often we err in loving! Not enough, too much, not at all. The command to love seems to be intrinsically tied to salvation. It's not only a matter of feeding or clothing the world's poor and homeless although those are important too. Nor is it diffusing love to everyone like oxygen.
    God's gift is love. He sent us love: Jesus our Saviour.
    "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent' (John 17:3).
    To love someone really then, is to want eternal life for him ultimately?
    How then should we relate to people practically?
    Should there be a gauge to love?
    Is everyone my neighbour?
    Is there some on whom should we not put our affection?
    Who should we love with all our heart?
    Before whom should we not cast our pearles?
    What does Christ say about this?
    What does the SOP instructs us?
    What does it mean, "first to the house of Israel?" Are some better positioned to receive love?
    Should chidren's bread be given to dogs?
    Who are dogs?
    Where are they?
    Are they already dogs ?
    What does it mean, "all Israel is not Israel"?
    To whom will He say, "I never knew you"?
    To whom will He say, "Come ye blessed of my
    Father... ."?

    Ginger

    Like(0)
    • Ginger, you have raised a lot of questions that tend to limit our love to our fellow man. Certainly we shouldn't love the devil nor should we love the world and all that it stands for (1 John 2:15). But what about the worst of the bad among us, how should we treat them?

      I think Jesus is the example we need to follow. While on the cross the worst He could say of those who nailed Him up there was, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34 NKJV). Furthermore, we find no place in scripture where he openly chastises Judas. At the end of his ministry He did prophesy what would happen to the one who would betray him and at the last supper He did say things that we see as rebuke but the other eleven disciples apparently didn’t see it that way, they still considered Judas as one of them. At best, what He said to Judas is certainly no worse than what He said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Mat 16:23 NKJV). But then Peter wasn’t his enemy but His injudicious friend instead.

      Then there are the scathing denunciations that He leveled at the Pharisees during the last week of His ministry. It doesn’t take a theologian to realize that He was making a last ditch effort to reach those hardened hearts. Even the verbal battering He lashed out didn’t work but He tried nonetheless. Oh yes, there is the two times that He chased the crooked traffic out of the temple but that wasn’t a flash of anger, it was premeditated days before the fact. If we would consider what Paul has said about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19) we would see in His action an object lesson concerning how God relates to the sin that is within us and what His ministry on earth was to do for us.

      If we would contemplate the many villages and towns that Jesus went into where He healed everyone, good and bad alike we would understand what scripture means when Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mat 5:44-45 NKJV).

      Like(0)

What do you think? If you like a comment, just [Like] it or post a thoughtful reply. Please provide a working email address and your real first AND last name to have your comment published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.