OK I am back for a moment anyway...since I turned 60 I find I have really slowed down a lot...in one week! I wrote a few weeks ago (I think it was a few weeks ago...might have been a couple of months) about a friend in the ministry who had fallen and how devastating it was to me. As a friend...as a pastor...as a follower of Jesus...Frustrated and confused...and I am not even that close to the situation. Pray for the family and the church family...much closer...much more pain. In the whole thing I can honestly say it did two things to me, maybe more. One it brings a Holy fear that I am just as capable as anyone in this world to fall so hard...and it makes me angry. WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE WE (the church) DOING
One morning this week I was sitting and reading and found this in 1 Timothy chapter 6. Paul is writing a young pastor named Timothy (you already knew that, sorry) and is giving him some tips on leading the church where he was at. In verse 6 he says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” I think this is worth pausing and rereading if you have a moment...Paul is alluding back to and forward to some words on money and the love of money and he says, having God and being content with Him is really fulfilling...The Message reads this way, “ A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God.” Being yourself before God...not playacting...not pretending...just being yourself with God. I can only imagine what Adam and Eve had in the beginning...walking with God...talking with God...naked before God...and comfortable and...content.
Why do we pretend so often? Why do we pretend do be what we are not? How do we stand in front of people and pretend...to be holy...to be cool...to be??? Religion does that, I think, not relationship with God...not being myself before God. No playacting allowed! Then later Paul give Timothy some great advice, advice we all should heed. Verse 11, “ But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” Medical studies tell us our brains will, in danger or if we feel like we may be in harms way, send us the signal to either fight or run. Either dig in to protect or get the heck out of the situation. Paul is saying in certain situations we need to flee, to run away from whatever it is that is pulling us in the wrong direction. I wonder why so often we are like the frog in the kettle...you put a frog in a pan of warm water and then you continue raise the heat until he is cooked...and the frog does not realize it until it is too late. Why don’t we man up or woman up and flee??? Run away as fast as you can and...pursue righteousness, godliness, endurance, faith, love, and gentleness...run after God. Run after the things of God. Run away from the things that will drag us away from God. James says, “ Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desires and enticed.” Good words, “dragged away” when we could have run away, to fight again another day...with God, not against Him.
Recently my knee has begun to hurt and I cannot run (not that I really want to) or walk up stairs right and definitely hard to dance with. The pain reminds me that I walk with a limp, the limp on some days is more noticeable than others...it reminds me I am aging...that is have run races...played games...had fun...it reminds me I am not God...I am His creation. It is good, really. People who become infallible fall...people who have to keep up appearances will forget their lines and be found out...religious people wear out and grow tired and just cannot do it anymore. Hopefully as they reach the end they find God waiting with His arms wide open, to walk with them, in the garden, naked and not caring...being their self before God. It has to be better...it has to be the right way...it has to be the only way.
So hear this o man and woman of God...flee, run away from the things that will entangle you and pursue...God...with everything...with wonder and awe...and fear. As a leader with a noticeable limp please do not read this as one who judges and is feeling pretty righteous but rather as one who weeps for the church and flees for himself, his family, his church family. Knowing what awful things I am capable of. Leading slowly, reluctantly, and with a great limp. Thank you Jesus for the limp.