Have you ever had one of those moments where you are reading or thinking about something (especially something you’ve read and thought about many times before), and you are struck vividly about the reality of a truth? Almost as though you just took a shot in the jaw from a Mike Tyson punch?
A pastor friend of mine was doing a training some years ago for a church I was pastoring. The discussion was centered on what a gospel culture looks like in the life of a church. One of his points was this: there is a difference between reading the Scriptures that leads to repentance and reading the Scriptures and merely sharing thoughts and musings about what the passage is saying.
I loved what he was saying. I agreed with it wholeheartedly. I wanted our people to grasp that. I began to pray for our people to engage the Scriptures in a way that led to repentance and real life transformation. But there was a little oversight on my part as I was praying and wanting this. What does this look like in my life? What is my typical response when reading the Scriptures?
As a pastor, it’s a big responsibility of mine (and will be when we launch our Sunday gatherings in September 2017) to prepare week in and week out to preach the Scriptures that lead people to Jesus and lead people to application of what a specific text is saying. I’ve heard Tim Keller say that it is the pastor’s job to preach a good sermon, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to make it great. Only the Spirit comes and enlightens the heart and leads people to repentance and transformation.
But over time, I’m learning in my responsibility to bring the Scriptures to bear on the lives’ of the people I’m called to lead and teach that it is real easy – especially if you’ve been doing the Christian thing for a while – to approach reading the Scriptures as a way to merely pull info and musings from a particular passage without doing a deep work of transformation in my heart. I’m learning that a pastor, who is continually in the Scriptures in preparation to feed Jesus’ people each week, can easily falls prone to this.
I have not preached weekly since last September, and I am super pumped to jump back in the saddle again when we kick off later this year. But I’ve had the privilege of leading our Gospel Community more recently through some vision and training over who we are as a church here in the Kennebunks. And it has led me to pray for people to be open and ready to receive the Scriptures that will come to them week in and week out as we gather. But the question I again am wrestling with: are you ready to receive the Scriptures? As a pastor, I never want to be the guy who stands before his people on a Sunday morning, or with his people in a Gospel Community and delivers to them food that he hasn’t tasted himself.
How do you respond to God’s living Word? Are we allowing it to get deep and reveal to us our inabilities to live life out the way God intends us to? Are we seeing the beauty and depth of the gospel in every passage? My prayer is that we would let it go to work on our hearts, so that it would lead to repentance, faith and transformation in Jesus. Always.