Category Archives: Church on Mission

One Eye Closed – Kingdom Issues and the American Christian

You may sleep with one eye open, but if you walk around with one eye closed, you will have issues with perspective.

As my Facebook newsfeed again erupts in the latest outrages (real or hyped) I have been reflecting on the larger picture that fuels our responses as people who believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and trust Jesus as the only source of salvation.

Many times, we have been looking around at “our” country with one eye closed I fear.

Remember the “good old days” of our Founding Fathers who had regular Bible studies together and founded this “Christian nation?”    We just can’t look at the fact that many of the founders believed in God as watchmaker, that Jefferson was a humanist who had taken a razor to his Bible to “fix” it.  Some of the Founders had put their faith in Christ, and most of them admired Biblical principles, and those principles were good for our country.    But if you were not white and male the picture was different.

But we fixed that right?  Civil war, emancipation, suffrage.  So then we have the “good old days” for sure, right?  But keep the eye closed that might see systemic segregation, child labor, exploitation.

So now these are the “better days”, right?  But still one eye must be closed.  We still have racism, just more hidden, we have abortion, we still have the poor, and our culture is further and further from the Good Book.

So the liberal side says the old days were bad and now we’re progressing.  The conservative side celebrates the old days and says these new days are bad.

I think both are right.  This is a sinful world, and it has been.  We live in a sinful country because we are a country full of sinners.

What we call “lawlessness” today is just the latest manifestation of what happens when man lives for himself and doesn’t make Christ the center of his life.  As a church we need to spend less time trying to fix politically what can only be fixed through Jesus.  We need to proclaim the good news.   Living in a democracy (or democratic republic, or however you want to put it) our well being as a country depends on reaching as many people as possible with the Good News of Christ’s love, life, death, and resurrection for our forgiveness and redemption.

We, as followers of Christ, need to remember that the old days were sinful too, just in different ways.  Our society has always abided evil, because man in his heart is evil.
Don’t look back at the days of slavery or racism and say that those were better because abortion wasn’t legal.
Don’t look at today with its abortion and anti-immigrant hatred and say its better because we’ve become more tolerant and enlightened.

Our hope is not in princes, presidents, laws, or morality.  It is in the risen Christ who transforms us out of our selfishness and wicked hearts.  Our whole world is in trouble, and always has been.  That’s why Jesus came.  That’s why He has placed us here.  To be lights in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation.

Footnote: Because some will try to twist this, let me say that I am not arguing against Christians voting, or advocating for truth in politics.  I’m not against standing up against unjust laws.  But if we place that as our primary strategy, we are missing the heart of Christ and the means to truly change our world.  Christ’s redemption.

Driving Miss Message

Imagine how you would describe the job of a race car driver.  Would you say “Drive Fast” or perhaps “Drive faster than everyone else.”  Simple, to the point, accurate.  Also a bit incomplete.

Imagine our new hire following his job description on I-95.  He would be a menace to all around him and not accomplishing what he was supposed to.  Yet he did drive fast; faster than everyone else.

The problem was that driving fast is not the point of a race car driver.  The point is to win the race.  Driving fast is a method, not a goal.  The goal is to win on the track.  Driving fast is just a description of how to best fulfill that mission.

Without a clear view of that mission, the instruction to Drive Fast could result in failure.

Now consider this key verse for pastors.

 “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. ”
(2 Timothy 4:2)

This is an important instruction from Paul to Timothy.  Paul even warns a few verses later that the day will come when many won’t want sound doctrine, preferring to have their ears tickled.

So how does this relate to my race car driver?

The job of a pastor according to Scripture is to equip the saints for service.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
(Ephesians 4:11-12)

This is the only time in the New Testament where the word Pastor is used.  The job here is clear, to equip the saints for the work of service.

I fear that sometimes pastors are driving fast, but they are not trying to win a race, they are merely barrelling down I-95, scattering people left and right.  They are preaching the Word.  They are ready in season & out of season.  They are rebuking and exhorting their hearts out.  They go home feeling good that they “drove really fast today.”

But did they win anything?   Sometimes our hearers are deeply educated but lightly equipped.  They will win at Bible Trivia and pass the theology test, but haven’t made a Disciple in years.  They can recite the four spiritual laws but are still not mature leaders who are training other leaders.  They have been in church for years, learning, but producing no disciples, and haven’t even brought a friend to church in recent memory.

Preaching the Word for a pastor is like Driving Fast for a race car driver.  Both are essential and neither is the point.  The point, the goal, for the pastor, as well as every Christian is Make Disciples.  Not merely educated believers, but equipped-for-service believers.

Without a clear view of that mission, the instruction to Preach the Word could result in failure.

It is beautiful when we put aside our pride at being “Preachers of the Word” and pour ourselves into the race that has been set before us:  to equip the members of the Body for their service.  To see them not only become Disciples, but to become Disciple makers.  Some of them even becoming Pastors & Teachers.  Oh, the joy of that winner’s circle.  Paul looked at Timothy and saw the wreath he had won.   He had preached the Word, but in a way that achieved the goal.  He had finished the race.