I know this is pastor appreciation month. Having been in the church all my life and graduated from Bible College, I actually have connections with many pastors, whether I have sat under them or not. I want to encourage you all not to become weary in well-doing. Don’t get distracted by the chaos in the world. Keep teaching theology! The real deal—not watered down as though doctrine is too weighty for the average person, or that it needs to be couched in “relevance.” That is a vague term for which the meaning can be shifty, and it seems to me that many well-known leaders are losing their solid footing by trying to follow culture’s lead. I can attest to the fact that there is nothing more relevant than being steeped in solid doctrine (whether you’re 5 or 105!)—there is no philosophy or public speaking prowess that compares to being captivated by God Himself. Keep teaching the whole counsel of God. In the most difficult moments of my life, I have never been comforted by anything other than confidence in the sovereignty and goodness of God. When I am hurt by another person, my identity is not victim but sinner saved by grace—His grace toward me is the only enablement there is to forgive another. When I am grieving, I don’t want to be told how sad God is—yes, he cares for me as a loving father and comforts me in a supernatural way, but because I can trust his sovereign plan and I know that not a molecule in all the world is out of his control, I am comforted that He is God and I am not. Nothing He does is without purpose. God absolutely does give us more than we can handle, because he wants our confidence to be in Him rather than ourselves—difficulties are purposeful to turn our focus to Him. I dare say theology is the most practical teaching you can offer.
For instance, I have been pondering these past couple of weeks the fall of humanity into sin. How sin brought death into the world. I am struck that always blessing and cursing are connected. Even when the earth was cursed because of our sin, immediately the blessing of the promise of a Redeemer was given. I can think of no pain greater than the death of someone I love. But even this is a grace—physical death is only a picture of the horrible separation between humanity and God caused by our rebellion and sin. We couldn’t understand it any other way. It is meant to hurt, but not without purpose. Separation from our creator is eternal apart from God’s redemption through Jesus Christ. I am reminded as my heart aches how good God really is to have stepped in to rescue me out of my own deserved, eternal death (separation from God). Because of Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf, I am no longer cursed but redeemed and adopted as God’s child—promised eternal life because of Christ’s resurrection! Death is a moment to consider eternity. It was given so we would understand our true position toward God apart from Christ, and cause those of us who hope in Him to look eagerly for Christ’s glorious return and the glorification of our earthly bodies—we will be like Him because we will see Him as he is! This is where my grief and joy meet, and where my comfort lies. Theology is inherently practical.
This life is short, but it’s not all there is. Sometimes life hurts—a lot. But we have nothing better to offer our hurting world than a glimpse of the glory of God. Continue to teach solid, Biblical theology. Some will reject it. Teach it with boldness and joy anyway! Christ’s sheep will hear his voice and follow him. Scripture and a strong foundation in theology is the best way to live life with patience and hope. Scripture is not intended to be offered as platitude in times of trouble—the foundations must be laid ahead of time so we are not shaken when inevitable trouble comes. The Holy Spirit, our true Comforter, then uses what we know deeply to comfort us in a way no one else can. So, my pastor friends–keep on keeping on! We need it and appreciate it more than you know!