Sunday, May 21, 2017

Reading Jesus Warnings in Matthew 23:6-15

In Matthew 23:6-15, Jesus talks about the dynamics of being a religious leader. When we are religious leaders there is a temptation to exalt our own reputation. There is a temptation even in obeying to do it for the motive of stroking our ego. In my home in the Ozarks it was the practice the churches I grew up in to not use titles like Reverend. Pastors were often called brother, but then again other men in the church could be called brother and the women sister. It seems that brother could also be used as a title of honor also. The intent is to not do that though. After completing seminary I have found it a challenge to find a traditional ministry with the honor that is common in American Protestant churches. So my heart is sometimes seeking honor exactly in the way that Jesus warns against. My own heart has a subtle desire to seek honor and a not so subtle anger in response to dishonor. This is another call to the life to live daily repentance.

I've been listening on Audible book by Robert Linthicum called City of God, City of Satan.  In the book he tells about how he went to Australia to speak to urban pastors in Melbourne and Sydney.  He said that he felt the pastors were particularly strong in doing urban ministry because they 1. share pastoral responsibilities as a team, 2. have other jobs for their own livelihood, and 3. the church is able to serve in addiction rehabilitation centers and housing.  These pastors serve in a way that enables ministry even in a small church through their sacrificial lifestyle.  A part of my own goal has been to find ministry that is honorable, when I should be looking how to serve, even serve sacrificially.  This example given in the book is a challenge to my own plans and prayers for current and future ministry.

Jesus talks specifically about over seas mission. He says that when we do such work is that we may be responsible for propagating even more sever forms of religious pride and ego. I have personally wanted to be involved in missions overseas. While trying to fulfill the great commission in Matthew 28:19,20, I must not fall into the sin warned against in Matthew 23:15. At the same time, I can see the warnings in Matthew 23:6-15 being used to justify not going to the mission field. I can also see it being used to criticize those who would set an example that challenges our comfort and ease.

Pray with Me:

 Lord, Our hearts are full of pride. We take our duty to love you and make it a contest which we want to win. Forgive us. For give us for also making others join in the contest. We have these and many more sins. Forgive LORD we pray. Amen
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