Today (8.27.2014) the IMB trustees announced that they had selected David Platt to be the next president of our International Mission Board. Concerns were raised before hand, and upon the announcement came both expressions of praise and concern: praise for his passion for missions and the glory of God in the salvation of the lost; concern over potential polarization, theological nuances, and cooperative program giving.
No doubt, like we often do, we will continue to debate the pros and cons of such a hire for months (if not years) to come.
But I want to ask a question transcending our feelings of agreement or disagreement with David Platt himself. The question is simply this: Do we believe that God is in this?
In his announcement on Brook Hill’s website, Platt said:
Over these past months, God has made it abundantly clear to both Heather and me that He is filling in that blank check in our lives and family with a different assignment. Along the way, God has used the elders of our church to affirm His call, and today He used the leadership of the IMB to confirm it. (http://www.brookhills.org/new/davidmessage.htm)
Platt says that he believes this is God’s leading for his life. The trustees in extending to Platt the call to the position believe that this is God’s direction for our cooperative foreign missions’ organization.
Do we believe this as well?
I guess this is the question: do we trust that David Platt and the men and women of the trustees are people of integrity, people who love Jesus and his church, and people who truly sought God’s will through prayer, thought, and discussion. If that answer is yes, then we need to rally behind our new IMB president despite our feelings or disagreements by praying, encouraging, and, yes, even challenging any decisions we believe are not in the best interest of reaching the world for Christ (but doing so in love and grace).
If that answer is no, then, Nashville, we have a problem that is bigger than the personality or beliefs of a single man. If these have said they have sought God’s will and this they believe is God’s will, and we don’t trust this, then we have an issue with the integrity and character of Platt and a whole bunch of trustees. They would be none other than self-deceived or deceivers, and the alarm should be pulsating.
Personally I believe it is the former and not the latter. I believe these are sincere when they tell us they have sought for God.
But…I will also admit my own personal difficulty with such trust in a more general sense.
In my opinion, we see a lot of human desire passing under the verbiage of God’s will. We’ve all seen it even in the walls of our own church buildings: churches calling pastors and pastors going to churches saying with a smile, “This is God’s will for us!” Yet sometimes a mere 2-to-5 years later, God’s will seems to have changed and the reason behind the reason usually seems to be a bigger paycheck or a sense of buyer’s remorse. We see it in church business meetings on divisive votes: two sides, both claiming that their view is what God wants for the church. (I often wonder how much either side has actually prayed through the issue?)
We see it in charlatan “preachers” who claim that it’s God’s will for you to send them your money and five months later they’re cruising around on a personal jet. Or they have some insight into God’s will behind a disaster hitting a city. Or…the list is almost endless.
There is so much abuse of the idea of “God’s will,” that, honestly, I tend towards skepticism. Being jaded is never healthy, but neither is being taken advantage of by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
I guess why I see this as different is because I have followed Platt’s ministry at Brook Hills for a while. Is he perfect in all he says and does? No…and I think he’d be the first to admit that. But I have seen over and over a passion and sincerity in his teaching and work. I believe the man truly does love Jesus and wants to make his glory known and see sinners saved the whole world over.
Also, I don’t have personal experience with many of the trustees of the IMB; but with the names on the list that I have: I know them to be people who love Jesus, people passionate about the gospel, and people who want to see the knowledge of the glory of the Lord fill the earth like the waters cover the sea.
And so I choose to trust. I choose to believe the best. I don’t doubt that Platt will make some mistakes along the way. I don’t believe he is the perfect candidate for the job, simply because he’s not Jesus. But I believe that he is the candidate of God’s will at this moment. So, with hope I look forward to the leadership he will bring to our International Missions Board.