Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Pastor's Letter - Part 4

Parts 1-3 are the previous posts. My musings are bolded.

I regret that you came to a different conclusion about me as a preacher and that you interpreted my comments in a negative and objectionable light. Perhaps it was because you did not know me and were not sure about some of my foundational beliefs, so when certain statements were made you feared I meant them one way when, if you had known me better, you would have known that I did not mean them that way. (Yeah, Jesus had that same problem when He spoke to the Pharisees. But seriously, if you have to know the preacher to understand what he says when he preaches, isn't that a problem?)

One theme that seemed to permeate your comments was the theme that we need to focus on giving glory to God, not get caught up in a bunch of works and rules, etc. to (Okay, perhaps I was not clear enough for you. It is not that we should not being doing good things, it is that the good things we do should should be motivated by our love for God and seeing Him as beautiful, and not by a desire to be blessed or curry God's favor. When 90% of the sermon is telling us how to behave and the other 10% is offering an invitation, that does not glorify God.) I assure you, that I agree that glorifying God is paramount. (That is what you say, so then why is that not reflected in your messages?) I also believe that we can best glorify God when we devote ourselves to the disciplines and practices given us to follow in the New Testament. (Okay, so you admit this.) Preaching on such things is not intended to replace the goal of glorifying God, but rather to enable us to reach that goal. (While that might not be intended, it is the result. We do not reach the goal of glorifying God by human effort. You can espouse all the behaviors you want, without the gospel it is in vain. Gal. 1:6-7  6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.)

Another theme I picked up on in your responses was an emphasis on the fact that God has to bring about the change in our lives - we don't do it ourselves. Again, I agree with you and my sermons are not intended to contradict that truth. (Again, while that may not be the intention, I believe it is the result.)  At the same time, I believe that God won't bring that change into our lives against our free will. As I said in Come and Be Fed,  we can't do it without Him and He chooses not to do it without us. (Yes, cliches are fine, but what does that really mean? How much is God and how much is us? How much do we need Him and how much dies he need us? Inquiring minds want to know.)    

More later.

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