I love my brothers in arms. Where I’m at we have a group of associational pastors who try to get together once a month for fellowship, prayer, encouragement, challenge, and food. Let’s not forget the food. Our particular group is a mix—there’s eight of us, and we’re mostly the younger guys. One is a youth pastor in his 20’s, four of us are the four youngest “senior” pastors in our association, all in our 30’s. And then there’s the three old guys (okay, one is in his early 40’s still and he’ll likely beat me up later for calling him old, such are the trials and tribulations of pastoring! 🙂 ). Half of us are full time, the other half bi-vocational. We have two who have been pastors longer than I have been alive, and four who became pastors in the past year. A couple of us have been to seminary, a couple to Bible college, and a couple who have no formal ministry education at all.
I love this group and the different perspectives we bring.
One man among us, though, who constantly encourages me and challenges me yet also convicts me is one of the newest pastors. He didn’t grow up in church and didn’t become a follower of Jesus until his late 20’s. Now he’s been a pastor for just under a year.
When we’re together we share our highs and our lows, we talk about our churches and how we can improve as leaders, and we pray for each other. Listening to this man share last night, I was struck with the same thought I have every time I listen to him: I wish I had a faith that simple.
Coming to faith when he did and just immersing himself in Scripture, he is humbly driven by John 8:31-32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”; and 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”; and 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth.”
Essentially in the way he tries to live and the way he tries to pastor, he reads the word, sees what it says, and does it. Simple faith. Simple obedience.
I, on the other hand, can look at my life… I started going to church 9 months before I was born. I grew up in church life and in Baptist life. I have seen countless business meetings without singing or prayer over the issues or digging into the word. I have seen the politics and the dealings that come from gossip. I have seen people who love Jesus sabotaged in their attempts to do ministry by people who love their control. I have seen highs along the way, good things that have happened; but I have also seen many lows and red tape and traditions that do nothing but get in the way.
Then I read the Bible, see what it says, and wish we could do it, but can name twenty reasons why it won’t work right now.
Faith gets bogged down in the machinery of growing up in church tradition. And I know from talking to others and seeing the looks in their eyes, I’m not the only one who feels this way.
If our faith is not a simple trust that reads to see what Jesus says and then obeys, then repentance is needed as well as detoxification from the baggage of church and denominational culture.
So here’s to a simple faith and trusting in Christ over culture!