The tears of Jesus are meaningful. But the other thing that was meaningful to me was what Jesus didn’t say. He makes no effort to justify Himself. He doesn’t bother to give Mary a lesson on the importance of sacrifice for the sake of God. He doesn’t launch into a theological treatise about what is really important in the universe. And He doesn’t make some pithy statement about how everything will be OK in heaven someday. He simply weeps. Sometimes the tears are better than the explanation.
That’s the kind of Jesus we follow. He is not one who simply barks orders onto the battlefield of life, telling us to go here or there, do this or that. We do not follow an ivory tower Jesus.
Peter is perhaps the most impetuous of all the twelve. Peter speaks before he thinks. Peter is all “ready, fire, aim.” Peter is jumping out of boats, chopping off ears, setting up tents instead of worshiping. And in Matthew 16, Jesus calls him a rock. N.T. Wright says Jesus calling Simon Peter a “rock” is like when we nickname a fat guy “Slim.”
And yet, this is a dynamic we see over and over in the Scriptures, that God calls sinners beloved.
One of the most effective ways I can do this is by visiting people at their workplace.
Because God designed people to work, my congregants spend most of the week at their workplace. I realized years ago that a powerful way to know and love my church members is to visit them there. I want to know this massive part of their lives. There’s a connection that can happen in the workplace that’s more holistic than a conversation in the pews or at a coffee shop.
Let me ask you this, think about popular movie stars, popular movie producers, people who have really made it in Hollywood. How many of them are believers? How many of them are truly following the Lord with integrity without compromise. I don’t think you can find very many. You can look in the world of sports, and you’ll find athletes who are true believers. Go to the world of finance, the world of education, you’ll find people who are true believers following the Lord. You got to Hollywood, you’ll have a very, very hard time finding it. Why? Because there isn’t room for Christians in that world.
The Bible is a field manual for the normal, embattled, desperate Christian life. God has mercifully packed it not only with examples and teaching, but also with songs and prayers for our trials. And we need songs and prayers to provide us words for the chaos, when anxiety and confusion fragment our thoughts.
Psalm 27 is that kind of song. David states his confidence in God, but he also confesses his anxiety and bewilderment and desperation. It’s a song for the normal Christian life.
It seems that conferences can be theologically rich but impractical, or else they can be practical but with little theological depth. I keep wondering: Can we not hold a conference that’s theologically driven but pastorally applicable? I hope so. In fact, I’ve attended a few over the years, including one this year. But they’re the exception.
Here’s my wish list for a conference for pastors and church planters.
A favorite from the archives:
I’m obviously not against people talking about what they’re good at. Doing so isn’t necessarily prideful—it might just be being honest. But sometimes when I hear people talking about what great teachers or leaders or whatevers they are, that cynical side of me thinks, “Who are you trying to convince: me or yourself?”