Impossible Goal?

The absolute claims of the Christian faith must not lead to intolerance, but tolerance must not lead to compromise of the faith. This may be an impossible goal.

It is the responsibility of churches to maintain the integrity of their own faith confessions. This is not intolerance, since those who do not share these confessions are not expected to have membership within the group. This is a separate question from tolerance in relation to a larger society. Christians should not expect the state to conform to their values and cannot expect that laws of state will always support their values.

August H. Konkel, 1 & 2 Kings, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 281, 283.

We’ve been getting this wrong for most of my lifetime.

The Celebrity Pastor Problem Is Every Church’s Struggle – Christianity Today

Read the article.

When I became a pastor at New Life Fellowship, my predecessor, Pete Scazzero, told me, “Congratulations, you can’t park in the church parking lot anymore!”

This shocked me, since I came from a church where I saw all kinds of perks and special treatment for senior leaders. I wondered, Shouldn’t pastors have prime parking spots?

Our church in Queens has a small lot—massive by New York City standards—but the point was taken. Pastors aren’t entitled to special treatment; they lead by serving. The parking lot lesson from Pete became one of my most important moments of character formation.

Certainly, this culture of “no parking” can be taken to another extreme, where pastors are not sufficiently cared for, encouraged, and supported. But it’s important to push back against the temptations of entitlement that can come with church leadership.

Priorities

The ease with which humans assume that God is aligned with their priorities, without their seriously troubling to align themselves with God’s priorities, is well attested throughout history.

Walter Moberly, The God of the Old Testament

Leadership Crisis

The existentialism of the mid-twentieth century led to a postmodern culture with its own view of life and the world. Truth has become an individual matter, and spirituality is related to one’s emotional health. Evidence is growing that this culture has begun to compromise Christian faith, much as the calves and calendar of Jeroboam and the sacred stones and Asherah poles of Rehoboam led to the dissolution of faith in Israel and Judah. Many are aware of this compromise of faith, but too many deny it. Without thoughtful and informed leadership, the church is in danger of becoming more religiously obscurantist and irrelevant.

August H. Konkel, 1 & 2 Kings, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 256–257.

There is a leadership crisis in the church, but it doesn’t need a John Maxwell to fix it. It needs servants of God, prophets of God, to step up.

I’ve been reading through Samuel and Kings. I can’t remember a time when my heart has been more heavy for the people of God. Why can’t we listen to the Bible? Why can’t we listen to God? Why can’t we remain in love with him? Why can’t we obey him?

I see no reason that God’s people today deserve exile any less than did the two kingdoms of Israel. I don’t know what it will look like, but I pray, like Abraham and Moses, that judgment will be delayed for the sake of the righteous people.

God’s Presence and Protection

The supposition that one can claim God’s presence and protection while being careless of God’s will and ways—which history suggests is a supposition that comes readily to humans—is mistaken. Or, put the other way round, only those whose way of living embraces God’s priorities, so that God’s justice is appropriated by them, can legitimately expect the blessing of God’s protecting presence.

Walter Moberly, interpreting Jeremiah 7 in “The God of the Old Testament”