Studies in I Thessalonians: Marks of a Faithful Pastor, Part 2
Jesus is the good and great shepherd of the sheep, the faithful, model, exemplary and perfect pastor. Christ is the Teacher, Leader, Visionary and true Senior Pastor. Jesus and Jesus alone is the perfect Head of all true churches. Even on our best day, every poor pastor is but a dim reflection of the Sun, a faint echo of the Voice.
Studies in I Thessalonians: Marks of a Faithful Pastor, Part 1
What makes a model, faithful, exemplary pastor? Like many areas of contemporary church life, much confusion reigns in the congregation as to how to answer this question. Even among pastors, distractions, discouragements and detours abound. Entertainment culture mandates he be smooth, attractive and most of all, funny. Business culture says he must be a strong leader who can fill the pews and grow the bottom line. Celebrity evangelical culture says he must have some published books under his belt and be popular on the conference trail.
We humans beings are highly skilled at avoiding the unpleasant and unwanted. Like the wimpy parent with powder-keg kids: “oh, you want to eat ice cream before supper, that’s ok.” Or the professional germaphobe taking all manner of precautions to avoid a germ. Or a driver who nearly wrecks to avoid hitting a squirrel!
Sometimes people simply refuse to convert. I moved to Texas in 2000 as a Pittsburgh Steeler fan (since around 1973). I’m still one today. I could live in the Jerry Dome and I would not convert!
I arrived a Spurs fan, thanks to David Robinson and Tim Duncan. I’ve simply added tee shirts, attended games, and learned more about the team to know that the Spurs are the best team in the NBA, no matter what happens on the court! Conversion leads to actions.
How did a first century Christian grow in her faith? How were new converts taught to obey Jesus? Consider that they had no printed Bibles. The New Testament was still being written. There were no Operation Timothy workbooks or Navigator’s manuals. No one had yet thought of a plan to read the Bible in a year. It wouldn’t have mattered, most early Christians couldn’t read!
The second mark of a model church is it will give ample evidence of God’s election. The inspired Scripture reads, “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice (or election) of you” (I Thess. 1:4).
The doctrine of divine election or God’s sovereignty in salvation might be new or confusing to some of my readers. Some have incorrectly viewed it as God’s choice of sinners based on the condition of their foreseen faith. Others have erroneously assumed that all individuals are elect but only some believe.
Celebrated Danish painter and sculptor Peter Brandes said this about colors: “Blue, yellow and red – those are the letters. They’re like alpha and beta in the Bible: they are the beginning of everything. I could go on and make any language with those colors.”
In like manner, if we were painting a portrait of a model church, we should start with the three primary colors of faith, love, and hope according to Paul in I Thess. 1:3-10.
What Happens When We Die?
Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my purpose for existence and where am I headed? These are the ultimate questions mankind has pondered for our entire history on this planet. Deep in our souls these questions reverberate into the night. Poets and pundits, sages and songwriters, gurus and grandmas all ponder these at some point.
But how do we know what we know? Who or what is your final authority in answering these queries? What should you believe and how should you behave? Or is there even a standard?
I have fallen in love … with First Thessalonians! I’m preaching through this letter for our church and thought you might also enjoy some of its riches. There is so much more here than I imagined! We begin today where Paul began, the topic of a model church. Are you in one?
Where Did We Come From?
Have you seen those commercials for Ancestry.com? For $99, you send these folks some of your saliva, they run your DNA and promise to send you back a breakdown of your ethnic mix! Analyzing more than 700,000 genetic markers, they can even find some distant cousins, if they too have joined their service. Their web site shows a guy who came back 52% Ireland, Wales, Scotland; 28% Scandinavia; 10% Italy, Greece and 10% Other. One lady on the TV commercial was somewhat overwhelmed to find out she was 24% Native American. She had no idea and apparently this completely changed her life. The ad shows her standing among Native American artifacts celebrating this new found knowledge.
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight