Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Anonymous Letter

Received a letter today that was interesting (to say the least) regarding my sermon Sunday, and in the light of their perspective, I wanted to just to make a few comments.

The main issue the letter writer raised in my sermon was that I summed up all ministry in the two words, "slow death". The image came to me as I studied the core scripture for Sunday which came from John 21, where Jesus, upon "restoring Peter", foreshadows the death Peter will have as he serves and glorifies God the rest of his days.

Peter's life, while fulfilling the promise that Jesus sees in him, was a difficult one. At varying times he was beaten, jailed, and mocked for what he believed. Worse yet was the infighting that existed in the early church between various teachers, preachers, and apostles on the meaning of Jesus' teaching, and how it should be applied in practical terms in the life of the church. Paul often alludes to the varying disagreements he has with other early Christian leaders (including Peter), and expresses anger and disappointment with they way that a few of them try to discredit what he does or says. Remember, it's Peter who must live with the pain he caused Jesus in his repeated denial that he knew Him... something he would have had a unique perspective on as he too had to deal not only with the enemies of the faith, but with the criticism and outright rejection of fellow Christians. This kind of pain, in Jesus' service, is always the worst, but is, unfortunately, not something that is foreign to anyone that's served Him over time.

Joseph Bishman, our Senior Pastor, always says that the worst kind of pain comes from "friendly fire", that criticism and rejection you never see coming from the people you thought loved you. That's the kind of thing that causes us to "slowly die", and hopefully, instead of turning that pain inward and becoming bitter, we let whatever it is that causes us pain (our ego, sin, need to liked by all, etc...) die, and let Jesus' new life take place.

We must be born again, Jesus says, which means, that we must die to ourselves, so that he might live in us.

That was what I was trying to say. Hope that clears up any confusion.

Until Next Time, God Bless,