Jun7WedJune 7, 2017
I am so grateful for the support of the FMC Elders for me to attend continued educational opportunities like those during Pastor’s Week at the Moody Bible Institute. Such moments provide me with opportunities to hear about what God is doing in our country and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance about how to lead in Central Illinois.
During that week, I had the opportunity to worship, to attend workshops, to read, to pray and to interact with pastors from across the country. I even met several pastors from Uganda who can’t plant churches fast enough. Where the church may be stagnant in America, the Lord is drawing many to Him in these ‘Third World’ settings! However, my spirit was most refreshed by attending four different prayer services. What an honor to worship the Lord and pray with Godly co-workers who are joined to one another through the work and power of Jesus Christ. Today, I’d like to share one of the lessons that the Lord taught me.
On Wednesday, May 24th, hundreds of pastors, gathered in the plenary hall to worship and listen to Dr. Mark Bailey. Dr. Bailey, as president of Dallas Theological Seminary, gave a compelling sermon from Acts 17. Throughout the evening, he expounded upon Paul’s missional engagement with the Greek philosophers of the day.
On Mars Hill, Paul was sharing the gospel of Jesus with two groups of people who tolerated each other and yet held conflicting worldviews. The only worldview that they mocked was the Christian worldview (see Acts 17:32). Dr. Bailey observed that we live in a similar setting and within a period of history when it’s culturally acceptable to believe that all roads lead to God, or to believe in no god and merely let one’s desires dictate one’s actions. Yet to confess that a relationship with Jesus is the only way to be made right with God is considered close-minded, ignorant, and intolerant.
He suggested that we, as Christian leaders, need to be courageous in two areas – conviction and compassion. The Apostle Paul was able to courageously hold to his convictions and yet carefully engage in compassionate dialogue with those who profoundly disagreed. He didn’t beat people down with Jesus. Nor did he compromise the message. He lived the gospel and shared the gospel with conviction and compassion. As a result, some mocked him. Some wanted to keep talking at another date. While some, perhaps a small amount, became disciples of Jesus.
This Scriptural lesson certainly does apply to today! As you have spiritual conversations and listen to the movements of our world, I ask you to remember that we need to be theologically strong and yet gentle and kind (see 1 Peter 3:15-17). I certainly struggle to be both of these at the same time. Perhaps you do too. I invite you pray with me to be courageous in compassion and courageous in conviction even as our world accepts relative truths and is quick to reject The Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.