Protect and Serve

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

 2 Timothy 1:14 (NIV)

As ministers of the gospel, one of our duties and responsibilities is the safe-keeping and guarding of the message of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.  It’s not only preserving the integrity of the Word, which is a high order in itself, but it’s also about guarding the preaching and teaching of the message(s) of Christ and the message of Christ himself.

The message of Christ is one of not only love, and peace, and joy, and grace, but it is also one of truth and transformation.  While the world, at large, embraces love and peace and joy and grace, it is at truth and transformation where many get hung up.  When the love of Christ begins to challenge who they think they are or the peace of God becomes confrontational in light of his Word, then Christianity, for some reason, is to blame.

1 Corinthians addresses a group of Christians: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly” (3:1-3).  Here Paul is making a distinction about teachings that are appropriate at different stages in a person’s spiritual growth.  Keep in mind that where a person may be in his or her spiritual maturity doesn’t necessarily coincide with where he or she is in chronological maturity.  How many of us know 45 or 50 year olds who act like two year olds when things don’t go their way?  Case in point.

Today, as all throughout history, mere babes are fighting fights of faith/against faith, that they aren’t spiritually discerning enough to really understand–even among clergy.  These Christian individuals love the “milk” of the message, but when it comes to the “meat”–the areas of truth and transformation–they balk and quarrel and fight. They find alternate theologies that fit their comfort levels better.  To them, they see Jesus more as a backyard barbeque host than the consummate Saviour from sin and death, rendering a new way of living.  They criticize those that hold to more literal renditions of Scripture as being narrow-minded, ignorant, conservative, out-dated, and even discriminatory, hypocritical, and unloving.

Granted, some who hold staunchly to Scripture are unloving, unkind, and ignorant.  It would do go for them to go on a strict diet of “milk” for a while, starting from the ground up as the writer of Hebrews asserts in 5:12: “…you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.  You need milk, not solid food!”  But, I know many who hold very loosely to Scriptural interpretation who are just as unloving, unkind, and ignorant.  These unflattering characteristics can belong to any of us who occupy any point on the spectrum of spiritual maturity.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the minister of God, who is spiritually mature and discerning, does whatever he or she can to safeguard the message and it’s availability in a world that is needy.  The minister is the watchman(woman) in this generation, the protector and defender of the gospel.  If we do not fulfill this God-given privilege, then it will be left to those who are not spiritually strong enough to defend what we hold so dear.  What kind of service would that be for our King?

And in the course of serving, may we not be lax in teaching the church in such a way that we are providing every opportunity for them to spiritually mature and grow in wisdom and discernment.  After all, what’s the point in protecting something we’re not truly invested in and taking advantage of ourselves?  Pastors and ministers, I beg of you, like Paul, guard what has been entrusted you and glean from it’s goodness!  Serve the Lord by standing up and defending the message of Christ and its pronouncement.  If you will not do it, then who will?


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