Category Archives: 2015-07

Pastor’s Pen for July, 2015

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:12-13) As the time of my retirement approaches, I feel a great resonance with Jesus' words quoted above. There are so many things I want to say to you, but now doesn't feel like the right time to say them. Some things are just impossible to put into words. Other things have already been said but not fully understood – truths that can only be known when they are experienced. Just as Jesus must have wanted to thank some of his disciples for their kindness and loyalty, he must have also wanted to grab others by the collar and shake them, screaming: “You think you understand everything, but you still don't have a clue what my ministry was all about!” I have those kinds of feelings too. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Jesus' words above is that he both acknowledged that his disciples still had much to learn and also expressed his confidence in the Spirit's ability to teach them everything they'd need to know when the time was right. It was an amazing act of relinquishing his leadership role and entrusting those he loved to the ongoing care of God. Hours before he sacrificed his body on the cross, he sacrificed his ego on the altar of God's love. Few leaders can resist trying to preserve their legacy by putting in place rules, regulations and structures that will endure after their gone. But outside of commanding them to love one another, he leaves their future in God's benevolent hands. What makes that remarkable is Jesus' trust that God will actually provide that kind of guidance for his disciples.. . and that the disciples will be able to recognize and accept it! Given their imperfect grasp of everything he'd tried to teach them up to this point, that was an extraordinary leap of faith on Jesus' part. It demonstrates his incredible confidence in God's power to use even the most deeply flawed people to carry out God's redemptive work. He didn't leave them with an institution to run or an empire to govern. All he asked of them was that they allow God to lead them from this point on. So despite my own frustrations at not having been able to say more of those things that need to be said, I will leave you with that same request: Allow God's Spirit to lead you. The greatest temptation that churches face today is to rely on their own wisdom, their ownfinancial resources, and their own personal preferences to lead the church instead of relying on the guidance and resources God's Spirit will provide. Buildings will crumble, and bank accounts disappear, and membership may decline, but God's Spirit will always provide that one crucial ingredient that God's people need the most. Local churches in our denomination have tended to listen more attentively to the voice of their members than to the voice of God in recent years, and the results speak for themselves. But as Jesus knew, the future of the church depends on the Spirit's leadership, not on our own. Knowing that makes it easier for all of us to face the future unafraid.                                     -- Duane