05 May 2012

Isn't it striking

that St. Paul didn't write:  It is required of stewards that they maintain good relationships with their congregations; but it is required of stewards that they be found faithful? 

What would happen if we turned from an obsession with managing relationships in the pastoral office and focused instead on just being faithful in delivering the Lord's gifts to His beloved Bride?  Crazy idea, I know. 

If our pastors are humble, remembering that they are but beggars living off the same divine mercy they invite their people to, they will seek to deliver the gifts with joy - even when they suffer for it.  Nor will they be surprised at the obstinacy and sin in their people - they'll have looked into their own hearts and recognized the evil that constantly springs up there.  And they'll know they're in a life and death battle with the spiritual powers to deliver the life that is true life, and that that battle is utterly worth the fight.

So that's my proposal:  lose the social science fixation with relationships and discover again the joy of faithfulness as we encourage each other more and more to be true to Christ and His Gospel no matter how much that might irritate people. 

15 comments:

tehazy said...

Thank you brother Bill for this excellent post. While relationships are important, fixation upon them often leads to paralysis: not saying anything because the relationship becomes more important than the Divine Word.

Pastor DtP said...

Sigh, again we have the illusion that pastor care isn't a both/and, but a either/or.

One who disciplines disciples, who loves and sacrifices for people - whether they realize it or not - are involved in "social science", the challenge of understanding the people the shepherd cares for. You cannot seperate the chesed, the elios, the agape from the concept of a relationship. Take the bereaved - a grasp of what they are going through helps the pastor know how to bring them into the awareness of Christ's presence and the healing that occurs from there.

For this is the model of how Christ is described in His ministry to us:

4:15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)

Tomorrow gospel in the three year readings reinforces this - our ministry is about connecting people - the new fruit to the nourishment of root. A lack of understanding of the fruit means there is no connection - we preach the law to the sin that is not real, and bring comfort to places it is not needed, while ignoring the real sin, and providing real comfort.

It is both and - not either or...and for some - a lack of realizing this - shapes the futility of their ministry.

William Weedon said...

If it a "both/and" then it cannot be "all about relationships."

revalkorn said...

Bill, it's easy for you to say this. You're a synodocrat. If you were a parish pastor, you'd know it's not that easy.










(You had to know I wouldn't be able to resist posting this--not with Faith's shoes encouraging me.)

William Weedon said...

There you go, blaming it on poor innocent Faith!

Tapani Simojoki said...

Thank you.

Pastor DtP said...

Bill,

Really? It can't be "all about relationships?"

There goes that human reasoning and intellect again - the old adam that insists that nothing is a paradox!

Are you saying you aren't completely a sinner, and that all of your life is counted righteous?

That the stuff you served from your former altar was not all "body and blood" and all "bread and wine" but that it was somehow 50-50 or 60-40, or all or nothing?

Ministry is not about all law - or all gospel, nor is it about Biblical/Doctrinal idolatry, or the means of grace being more important than the relationship God ordained that they restore.

Or maybe Paul didn't really mean all that relational stuff in 1 Corinthians 13 - especially the part of about "faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these is.."

William Weedon said...

Dustin,

I disagree. The ministry is all about proclaiming Law and Gospel, delivering the Lord's gifts to His people that keep them in humility and faith. The "relationship with God" that the means of grace bestow is the rightly ordered one where He is all giver and we are receivers who are enlivened. Paul meant exactly what he said in 1 Cor. 13 - it's just that the Blessed Apostle doesn't say a word there about relationships as the term is used now. He speaks instead about faith, hope, and love. And love ins't an emotion. It's a participation in the Divine Life of Him who IS love.

But as often happens, I'm thinking that I'm just not getting what you are saying. Except that I ticked you off. THAT I get! ;)

Rev. Dustin Beck said...

I find it interesting that our vernacular today talks about a "relationship with Jesus Christ..." Scripture doesn't speak this way that often...it's altogether too imprecise. 'Relationship' could imply anything from boss to girlfriend, mother-in-law to whatever other relationship you can dream up. Let's explore the depths of the sentence "Jesus is Lord" instead of borrowing language to describe what's going on.

Pastor DtP said...

Yes it never mentions the word relationship, but that is a nra leading comment. consider,

Every menion of covenant is a regerence to relationship.
" I no longer call you servants, but friends,"
"you shall be my people, and I shall be your God"
the entire discussion of respinsibilty in relationships found at the end pkg Eph. 5, starting at verse 21 amassed going into ch. 6.
the abundance certain words relationship, like chesed, agape, elios, pistis, not one is defined outside of relationship.
the Decalogue

even your discussion on lordship its one of relationship, as the covenant requirements on the Lord are primary, and the response of his people is reflective of his care.

of course, herein is the problem, as the "logic" of the age of enlightenment attempts to reduce the Logos into a nice system of theology, something Chesteron warned about in his book Orthodoxy, and Pascal railed against, and of course led to the postings of the invitation to debate indulgences and the concept of purgatory....

in the end/beginning all there will be will be THE RELATIONSHIP, so get used to it, revel in it, for Jesus sought you out, that it would be restored...

infanttheology said...

Pastor Weedon,

Isn't it about THE relationship, i.e. being faithful to the most important Person we are related to? : )

Never did congratulate you on your new position either. Congrats!

+Nathan

Pastor DtP said...

Nathan,
If it's all about your faithlessness, you are in deep kimchi. It's about trusting in His faithfulness, not yours.
The point is this = we (as in the church catholic) can't have trust with someone you with whom you aren't in a relationship. This isn't the "personal" Jesus stuff - it is all about the relationship God creates with us, the very reason for His longsuffering and the very mission of Christ.

Pastor DtP said...

Bill,
Re-read your original post again, and I am not "ticked off" - I am more worried - for in your position - affecting both the leadership of our synod as their chaplain and as the "Director of Worship" your position is concerning.

The things you mention in your follow up are all the tools - and sub-tools that are part of the "means" of grace. But the end is that relationship - THE relationship between God and the people He has made to be His people.

This week's three year gospel bears this out - the same agape the Father has for the Son, the Son has for us, and has established us to have for others.

Note again - that love is show in "laying down one's life", and yet He lays ours down (the word "appointed" is the same word!) that we would reproduce fruit that abides/remains in Him. (think of the seed - unless it dies... same concept)

Bring in Eph 2:10, in Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Cor 3:16ff, it is all about the relationship - both between God and man, and because of that - and the same agape - between disciples and man.

That is being "true" to the gospel, not some adherence to man made commands, but to the very poeio of God - loving one another. The joy comes from the fixation (the remaining/abiding) in the relationship.

YOuu are calling for a choice - abandon the fixation/abiding/remaining in the relationships God has commanded/established/commissioned, or be faithful.
There is no difference... a pastor and people who don't remain and focus in the relationship God has established are not faithful - not matter how "correct" their actions are.

William Weedon said...

Dustin,

I think the choice I'm calling for it to emphasize to pastor's faithfulness in delivering the gifts as opposed to focusing on attempting to manage the human relationships. FWIW.

Brad said...

Bill, and that is what I heard you as saying. It is also what I hear Jesus saying in Matthew 10:34-34: "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." It's not that we delight in such crosses, but I think the next verse also captures well your call to faithfulness.