Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Nugget from Paul

I was reading in Paul's letter to the churches in Galatia. This is an amazing little letter. I know that I say that about each book of the Bible that I read. That is because each one is amazing. I am continually amazed how the Holy Spirit was able to inspire the writers of the books of the Bible, doing exactly what Jesus said He would do: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (John 14:16 ESV) He brings into the thoughts of those who He inspired to write the words of what we call the Holy Bible. I am fascinated that through the several thousand years it took for all these books to be written, there was one central focus - the coming of the Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. How amazing is that? (How many times can I use "amazing" in one paragraph?)

Anyway, I was reading in Galatians and read this little verse (along with many other verses), "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10 ESV) Whom am I, as a pastor, trying to please? Whom am I, as a Christian, trying to please? That really is a tough question that should challenge each one of us. The answer is actually quite simple. I am trying to please God.

Yet, as I give that answer, I find that I am challenged each day because it is so difficult to follow through with this thought. For if I am working to please God, there will be times when I do not please man. In today's world, it seems that the focus of each day is to make every person happy, to not offend anyone and to live in such a way that we do not cause anyone to be upset with us and our actions. People are so quickly offended. If you say one thing, people will be offended. Yet if you say the opposite, other people will be offended. How do I make each of them happy? I don't say anything.

Really? I am not to say anything at all? Then how can I be a Christian? How can I be a pastor? As a Christian, I am called to tell the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, even if I was not a pastor, I am still called in my life to tell the message of the Gospel. That Gospel is going to offend someone. To say that Jesus is the only way to salvation means that those who do not believe in Jesus will not be saved. That is offensive to those who don't believe in Jesus as their Savior. To say that God has called each one of us to a life of purity and morality based upon His Word, is to offend those who do not want to live a life based on God's Word. (Or they try to find some way to twist and turn God's Word to fit their corrupt and sinful lifestyles.)

What is the point here? The point is that in the end, we are called to live out our lives for God and not for man. We are to reach out to those around us with the message of the Gospel. We are to help those in need. We are to love all people with the love of Christ. We are to share with those who are less fortunate. Yet through it all, we are still be focused on living, acting and talking in a way that pleases God and not man. Is this easy? No it isn't. My heart wants to be liked by all people. As a person, I want all people to like me. As a pastor, I know that isn't going to be the case. If I point out a sinful action to someone, they may become offended. Does that mean I stop pointing out the sinful action? No. I must still do just that.

That is important in such debates as transgender bathrooms, homosexual lifestyles, alcohol abuse, emotional abuse, abortion and end-of-life issues and a whole host of other hot button topics in today's world. Is it easy? No it isn't. Is it welcome in the world today? No it isn't.

That didn't stop Paul. It didn't stop the early Christians in the 1st & 2nd centuries. It shouldn't stop Christians in the 21st century. Lord, guide me that I may live to please you and not man. I need the Spirit's help and guidance in this life. Forgive me when I am unloving and uncaring. Forgive me when I fail and seek to please man instead of You.

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