In his book, The Pastor, Eugene Peterson talks about how his life experiences molded his ministry. In a chapter about his uncle Sven???a man who the world misunderstood but Peterson knew so well??? Peterson ends with the following…
For me, my congregation would become a work-in-progress???a novel in which everyone and everything is connected in a salvation story in which Jesus has the last word. ???Chapter 7, “Uncle Sven”
Peterson???s genius is seen in his ability to frame all of ministry in the context of salvation. In the end, it???s God???s judgement that will win the day???not ours???and that judgement could be condemnation and it could be acquittal. We seem to have some insatiable need to know ???what the Bible says??? about something in order to prove it wrong. But in the end, this life is one great story about salvation. Our job as followers of Christ is to make disciples for Jesus, not send people to Hell before they die.
Jesus held company with people who were sinners, outcasts, and unclean. Was his presence with these people an acceptance of their way of life? No. When the woman who had been caught in adultery was cast down before his feet, did he tell her, ???Go and keep living the way you are…???? No. He said, ???Go and sin no more.???
God???s answer to our problems today is…
28???Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.??? ???Matthew 11.28-30
Jesus??? last words are for us to lay down the life that we are living???whatever that life is???and take upon our shoulders the life that we were created to live; a Christ-like life. For Jesus to have the final word, we need to shut our mouths and open our hearts. Until we do that, we will always speak before Jesus. Let Jesus have the last word and let us…
…be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for your anger does not produce God???s righteousness. 21Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. ???James 1.19-21
All of life is about salvation, about being made whole by God through Jesus. When we have the last word, we deny grace the opportunity to redeem a moment, an action, or even a soul. Letting Jesus have the last word leaves room for God to judge or acquit.
We are so quick to give an answer or claim an argument or perspective by sticking our viewpoint in the ground of the moment, like a conqueror claiming a land in the name of their country. Again from St. James…
7Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.8You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. ???James 5.7-11
Be blessed this week. Ask for the Lord???s peace and receive it with a thankful heart.
Rev. Whit R. Martin
Pastor, New Liberty United Methodist Church
www.newlibertyumc.org Devotional Blog ??? devoblog.posterous.com