Last night I participated in a historic event in the life of my young church family. We had a special congregational meeting to vote on calling our first permanent lead pastor. I am so excited to be able to report that the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of calling the candidate recommended by the Board of Elders (of which I am a part).
I presented the scripture readings, devotional, and opening prayer for the meeting. Today I just want to share what I shared with the congregation.
The first scripture reading I presented was Galatians 5:22-26 (NIV):
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
This is a passage I meditate on often because I want the Holy Spirit to cultivate this fruit in me. I think it is important to remember that the word “fruit” in this passage is singular. We don’t get to pick and choose which fruit we will bear. There is but one fruit with all of these characteristics and God wants to produce the entire fruit in us through His Holy Spirit.
The second scripture reading I presented was 1 John 1:1-4 (NIV):
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
This passage, or at least the italicized part above, was the basis of the devotional I read from Walking with God Day by Day by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This is a wonderful little daily devotional that is filled with great wisdom. In selecting a devotion to present at our meeting, I went to the September 19 entry of this daily devotional and was so excited to find that it dealt with preaching and the duty of preachers in the church. Since we were to vote on calling a pastor I thought this was perfect. Here is the devotion that I read:
The lack of proclamation in the preaching of the Church accounts for so much of the present state of the Church and the present state of the world and of society. A man standing in a Christian pulpit has no business saying, “I suggest to you” or “Shall I put it to you” or “On the whole I think” or “I am almost persuaded” or “The results of research and knowledge and speculation all seem to point in this direction.” No! “These things declare we unto you.”
The old charge that has so often been brought up against the Church and her preachers is that we are dogmatic; but the preacher who is not dogmatic is not a preacher in the New Testament sense. We should be modest about our own opinions and careful as to how we voice our own speculations. But here, thank God, we are not in such a realm; we are not concerned about such things. We do not put forward a theory that commends itself to us as a possible explanation of the world and what we can do about it; the whole basis of the New Testament is that here is an announcement, a proclamation – those are New Testament words.
The Gospel, according to the New Testament, is a herald; it is like a man with a trumpet who is calling people to listen. There is nothing tentative about what he has to say; something has been delivered to him, and his business is to repeat it. It is not the business of the messenger, first and foremost, to examine the credentials of the message – he is to deliver it. We are ambassadors, and the business of the ambassador is not to say to the foreign country what he thinks or believes; it is to deliver the message that has been delivered to him by his home government. That is the position of these New Testament preachers, and that is how John puts it here. “I have an amazing thing to reveal,” he says in essence.
We have voted to call our new lead pastor, and his job, first and foremost, is to proclaim the Gospel to us in all that he says and does. Secondly, he is to teach us how to proclaim this wonderful Good News as well. I have no doubt that the pastor we have called is up to the task.