There was a man in the church who did not like change. He wore the same suits that he purchased thirty or forty years ago. Even though the jackets were threadbare in places he saw no reason to change them. He was also very vocal about how he disliked these new changes and this new pastor. His friends, equally disgruntled about changes in their lives, frequently came together to dine on pastor potluck. This man did not want any pastor to lead him, but he did need a shepherd to care for him.
In Acts 20:17 – 21:6 Paul is preparing to go to Jerusalem and face resistance. There are some key insights from this passage geared to pastors in all types and sizes of churches to shepherd those who do not want your shepherding.
The best part about watching my firstborn learn to read was knowing he was well on his way to reading the Bible for himself. It was amazing to think God’s Word would be accessible to him.
But that was also an intimidating thought. Where to begin?
Here’s the thing, though – culture is going to be created with or without our help. We would be wise, then, to recognize this fact and take an active role in culture formation in those environments in which we can. And we ought to consider carefully not just how we talk about the gospel, but how we take an active role in forming a gospel culture in our homes.
All of our churches are tempted to be worldly. Every single one. And every pastor is tempted by worldliness too.
That’s why John writes to the church in Ephesus. He warns them of this danger. “Do not love the world or the things in the world,” John warns us. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Some Christians believe it would be good to remove unnecessary offense by downplaying human sinfulness, but such a move severs the root of what makes grace so powerful. It is precisely because we’re bad, not good, that God’s love in sending his Son to die for our sins is so significant.
The trouble is, grace is unimaginable in a world where everyone believes grace is deserved. And when grace is transformed into entitlement, the definitions change, for both those inside and outside the church.
At a time when everything is a source of a division—when even professional sports have become political lightning rods—how can the Christian church be different? How can we model something radically uniting and inviting to a world going deaf from the cacophony of partisan bickering?
Maybe the answer is closer than we think. Perhaps it’s as simple as recognizing the power of something we do week after week, and committing ourselves to it anew: singing together.
A favorite from the archives:
There’s part of me that fears eventually not feeling like a Canadian. Of, eventually, not having a strong sense of the challenges local churches face there. Of not being considered a Canadian blogger—but instead being a blogger from Canada. Because I don’t live there. I don’t breathe the same cultural air.