While closing out a series on spiritual fitness yesterday morning, on the exercises of evangelism & hospitality, Pastor relayed two stories, that upon hearing them, I felt God confirm clearly... there's your #seniorPastorMonday prayer.
Pastor Martin Niemöller, who once had close ties with Hitler, but later led other pastors and religious leaders in a resistance against him shared a great regret. For those who don't recognize the name, Niemöller is known for the following quote:
"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist. Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me." - Martin Niemöller
His regret however, he shared after having a dream. Hitler standing before God on judgement day. His response for not accepting Christ as Lord & Savior, "Nobody ever told me." Meanwhile, in real life, Martin Niemöller had once sat with Hitler at a dinner party. He talked about trivial matters, rather than sharing his testimony of what Christ had done in his life and the difference Jesus could make in Hitler.
Switch gears to Gandhi. Known for this quote:
'I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." - Mahatma Gandhi
However, Gandhi was serious about Christ. At least, seriously considering Christ. The quote however, the after effect, of Gandhi visiting a Christian church in the mountains of India. Upon entering the church, a British usher told Gandhi he was not welcome; not being the person of prominence and socioeconomic status that that church catered to during the time of the caste-system structure of India at the time.
How different our world would be...had a pastor witnessed to a political force to be reckoned with.
How different a country 4x the size of the United States would be... had an usher welcomed an unknown visitor to sit and hear.
What greater stories convey and stress the importance for balanced, focused pastors with well-grounded ministry?
What greater stories convey and stress the importance for spiritually healthy, spiritually mature congregations?
Consider the alternatives. The story of the Sunday School teacher who led D.L. Moody to Christ. The salvations that followed, leading up to Billy Graham coming to Christ. And so many, many more. Like Jerry McAuley, a former convict who accepted Christ upon hearing the testimony from a friend. McAuley founded America's first rescue mission, McAuley's Water Street Mission. Today, it's known as New York City Rescue Mission. The great Fanny Crosby helped the people that mission served, in one of Manhattan's worst slums.
What potential is being withheld in kingdom of God because the people of God aren't being like Christ as the world expects?
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday... God help us, the church, and our Pastors, when we fail to portray Christ accurately and effectively. May God help us to speak the truth of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray we have ears that listen to peoples stories; that like Christ, we would meet their need by knowing what it is and what can be done about it. Whether a Pastor or parishioner, may we not be afraid to share, the story of how Christ has impacted us. May we not be found so busy leading and doing church, that we forget to be the church.
May we remember the advice of Fanny Crosby; that we would keep this in mind at all times:
"You can't save a man by telling him of his sins. He knows them already. Tell him there is pardon and love waiting for him. Win his confidence and make him understand that you believe in him, and never give him up!" - Fanny Crosby
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.