Hello Reform-Shire friends. I have been thinking (I know it is dangerous to do so) about many of the missionaries that I have interacted with over the years and especially recently. Like friends from Eastern Russia, Zimbabwe, India, Haiti, United Kingdom, and many other locations throughout the world. I love their devotion to preaching the Gospel and their commitment of pointing people to Christ.
Even when I encounter many of the missions that have established Bible colleges and schools to train more pastors, they are primarily focused on the Gospel and getting it right. No flash, no gimmicks, no bait and switch techniques, like you might find in the United States. Instead just a pure and simple preaching the person and works of Christ.
That is why I love working with and supporting missionaries. I see them following what the Apostle Paul says was his main forte. In his letters to Timothy and to Titus, it seems this is the very thing Paul was charging Timothy to be his number one priority "preach the word." And I don't think that means just to preach any kind of sermon as long as you are preaching from the bible and referencing the text. But, Paul has a specific message in mind. It is a message that does not come from within. It is a message that can only come from God. It is the message of reconciliation through the Gospel. This isn't an intuitive message but it is the meal or the provision (like manna from heaven) that will sustain us.
I recently heard a young pastor / counselor talk about how many people that have been coming to him for counseling and he was asking for desperate prayers for so many people who are have such desperate issues in life such as marriage, finances, and many other social issues. Later on we were discussing the importance of the Gospel and I pointed out to him (in a loving way) I said; "If we as a church would spend more time preaching the Gospel and showing people how overwhelmingly blessed they are by God's amazing grace their would be fewer people needing to come to you for counseling." If people really understood the gospel I think there would be fewer people discontent about many many things... even during some heavy trials. Christ is sufficient for me.
So, why is it then that we spend many years and tons of money on programs and messages that address these very issues people are coming to counseling for? It seems that the more we address these "issues" the more the people of our congregation seem to have "issues" needing fixed. Then every time we get together in a meeting to discuss "how are we going to solve this crisis?" We hear about even more programs and weird or clever ideas of how to correct the issues with band-aids and no real solutions that go to the heart of the matter.
But, when I look at Paul and these missionaries I see they always go to the Gospel first. My first problem in life is not my marriage or my children or my finances. It is my relationship and my wicked self standing in light of a Holy God..... More to come later on this subject... Time to go to worship now.
Grace and Peace,