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Unsettling: Pastor’s Word

As a matter of rule, when I receive anonymous notes I discard them because my take is that the Bible requires we be willing to stand behind our words.  Therefore, anonymous notes go right into the circular file unread.  But this week I violated that rule.  I got an unsigned note after services Sunday that expressed concern that Sunday’s message was basically unfair if not downright oppressive to those who are at the lower end of the wage-earning range.  The sense was that the message offered no hope to them.

Pastorally, this was very unsettling.  The Word of God, even at its most convicting, always intends to offer hope since it rests on God’s grace, love and compassion.  He speaks because He cares. He will judge, but He prefers to redeem.  So, I have been prayerfully processing this all week. Here is some of the outflow of that journey.  Nothing earth shattering, but hopefully containing some value.
       –  I was confronted with the stark realization that at this point in time God chooses not to answer our prayer to end all economic and social injustice in one fail swoop.  The time will come for that (see Revelation), but it isn’t now.
      – Given this, the reality is that He continues to call on His Church to make a difference.  The Church’s main mission is to be God’s agent of the Redemptive Word, so everything we do needs to be bathed in sharing of the Good News.  But since human nature inseparably incorporates body, soul and spirit this mission must minister to the entire person.  Inevitably, ministry must deal with issues created by economic and social realities.  It is here where I grieve the lack of generous and sacrificial giving on the part of the church. If Bible believing American Christians actually tithed (gave a 10th) on the 5+ trillion dollars they earned in a recent year, there would be billions more available for Christ’s Church to minister to the whole person. And what a difference Christ could make with it. The consequences of the Church’s lack of faithfulness are felt by many.
       – We have heard repeatedly that proverbs are not promises.  They are statements of how things generally work best given how God has engineered this world. But since sin ravages our world and God has decided to wait on putting that to an end, His proverbs are sometimes subverted.  However, they still are the best wisdom for us to live by.  They are a life-line of hope to us in the chaos of a sinful world.  Therefore, even though the challenges of following the principles of wisdom we considered Sunday (spending less than we make, saving some over the long haul) are greater for the economically marginalized, they are still a life line of hope to them and everyone else. All of us are better off if we follow God’s wisdom the best we can.
      – I feel a greater sense of stewardship than ever before.  At this moment in my journey, the money doesn’t run out before the end of the month and how I use that extra treasure is Kingdom critical.  God’s call to manage our financial lives so that we are ready to help those in needs seems as critical as ever (Ephesians 4:28).

To be a follower of Christ is to be a disciple.  A disciple, by definition, is a learner.  We all have lots to learn.

Blessings,

Neal

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