Friday, February 6, 2009

Whose Interest?

Philip. 2:19-30 (ESV)
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. [20] For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. [21] They all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. [22] But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. [23] I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, [24] and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
[25] I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, [26] for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. [27] Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. [28] I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. [29] So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, [30] for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

“For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. They all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.”
Absolutely incredible! They all seek their own interests. Sometimes we think we have new problems that they didn’t deal with in the Bible or in “Bible times.” Problems like pastors seeking their own interests over and above those of Jesus. Nothing new. It is surprising that Paul had a cadre of these self seekers in his entourage. At least Paul knew not to send them out. It isn’t that Timothy didn’t have concerns or interests of his own, I’m sure he did. But he put the interests of Jesus first. The interests of Jesus must be first. Neither the interests of the congregation or the pastor can take precedence over the interests of Jesus.
The pastor’s greatest temptation is to serve his interests by serving the interests of the congregation. That is those interests that are in conflict with the interests of Jesus. Pastors take their marching orders from Christ, or at least they should. It is the harder road. You probably won’t find much of any resistance if you start feeding the perceived needs of the people, their interests. Pulling crosses down, juvenalizing the music, and trivializing the gospel will all appeal to people who want to be affirmed rather than forgiven. And the pastor’s paycheck will grow as more people have their ears tickled.
You see I don’t think it is so much that Paul’s cadre was baldly self interested. But they probably had such a penchant for peace with the world that they failed to stand up and demand repentance. Controversies arise and the tendency is to ignore them until they are out of control, because it is unpleasant to deal with them. The congregation wants to do something and the pastor doesn’t stop to see if it really is beneficial or not. Is it what Jesus wants? Does it serve his interest? And don’t fool yourself thinking that if it gets someone to darken the door of the building you call a church that it is serving Christ’s interests. If it isn’t proclaiming the gospel, or if it is undermining the gospel, than it isn’t in His interest.


Edward P. Snerdly III said...

Great post!

My pastor has run into opposition from the congregation, many times, because he (the pastor) has put Christ first and refused to fulfill the desire of someone's need for self affirming music, or whatever.

I thank God for pastors who are bulldogs for Christ, and who stand fast and are not tempted by the shifting winds of the culture, the slfish desires of the congregation and their own selfish desires.

Thank you, Bror!

Bror Erickson said...

God bless you pastor.
As a follow up to the post a wonderful prof of mine always reminded us students that The Gospel is going to offend. But make sure it is the Gospel and not you that is doing the offending. Now that is a bit of law that cuts through some pastoral pride.

Anonymous said...

Quite right my old friend, the Gospel will offend, but I find that it will only offend those who are self serving and not open to recieving the word. I myself tend to be self serving, but as time passes and my faith is feed the bread of his word I am given the chance to share that with those around me. And yes, sometimes it is through unconventional means. As you pointed out, the question to ask myself is "is this to the glory of God, or is this to the glory of Johnny?"

Johnny said...

The anonymous was me, now I have an account.