Many times I have discussed the role of a pastor, and I have also made it quite clear that the guy up front every Sunday might be your Pastor, but not necessarily. Does he know you? Does he meet with you? Know the names of your kids (if you have any)? I would go so far as to ask if he knows what your favorite food is (but I admit that may be stretching it a little far). But my point is that your Pastor will be someone who relates to you; knows you intimately; cares for you; prays for you; encourages you and even chastises you.
I was reading Paul’s letter to the Roman church, and the ninth and tenth verses of the first chapter caught my eye:
Before God, whom I serve with all my heart in the Gospel of his Son, I assure you that you are always in my prayers (Romans 1:9)
That my friends is a perfect sign of a great Pastor. He is constantly praying for — interceding for — the people under his care. A Pastor should know the people under his care. He should counsel; comfort; encourage and instruct them. John Stott refers to Pastors as “shepherds of Christ’s sheep, called to tend, feed, and protect them.” Acts 20:28 tells us that the Holy Spirit “has made [them] overseers . . . shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood”
The Paul went on to say,
I am longing to see you: I want to bring you some spiritual strength, and that will mean that I will be strengthened by you, each of us helped by the others faith. (Romans 1:9-13)
That is the way it should always be! When we gather in home groups; home fellowships; Church services — wherever two or more gather — we should mutually strengthen and encourage each other. In The Cotton Patch Version, Clarence Jordan renders the above passage as, “For really I am anxious to see you. Maybe I can share some spiritual gift with you that will perk you up. By this I mean that both you and I will be helped by one another’s experiences.”
Because of the strength and support of the group I meet with, I was able to confess an addiction to Diet Coke. Now many of you may think that is silly, but it is possible that the Aspartame in diet Coke may be causing many of my current ailments. I am not making a definitive declaration of that, but I just can’t stand the thought that it has such a hold on me. For me, it is an a act of surrender to Christ, so I can bring honor to Him with my body. I remember what A.W. Tozer said about that: “What I do not absolutely surrender and give up to God comes between God and me.”
Now whether or not the Aspartame is causing my many problems is a side-issue. I just don’t want to be controlled by anything! And I choose to surrender it to my Lord.
I am bringing this up because I found a safe place where I could make such a confession. I felt safe among the brothers and sisters in the fellowship. All of us are there to strengthen and encourage each other!
If you have the pleasure of gathering together with a group of believers, my prayer for you is that you can discover this liberty. If Christians could get this vision of how we are to function as God’s ultimate family, the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Day by day, as opportunities arise he will fit us into our roles and fulfill his desires.
It would be amazing to discover how we could solve many of the problems in our physical family, simply by allowing our spiritual family to function properly. If you can discover a deep prayer life and accountability to some close members of your spiritual family, they will help make your relationship within your physical family what they should be. What I mean is that our personal accountability can keep us from all sorts of personal traumas, sins, habits, etc.
Regardless of whether you have a large church or a small church, you will find people avoid relationships. Why do we do that? Is there something wrong with it? Why do we need to develop relationships, anyway?
Well, before I was sidetracked with some problems within another church I attend, I was attempting to answer those questions. If you remember, we were examining the study I called, “Dust and Stars,” and I think I will return to that study tomorrow. So stay tuned. “Same Bat time. Same Bat channel.” [Sorry, if you weren’t watching TV in the 70’s, I bet you didn’t catch that].
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.