Thursday, April 28, 2011

Christ-like Ministry

OBD: "Haters of God" (28 April, 2 Tim 2:23-26)


2 Tim 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.


Paul speaks here about the attitudes of "the Lord's servant," generally understood to refer to those who are ministers of the Gospel, e.g. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Or we may generalized this term to refer to all in spiritual leadership. Spiritual leadership exposes us to challenges that a member of a congregation would never know nor experience. Because of the greater pressures leaders experience, their character (or lack thereof) is exposed under pressures.


So, Paul here lists some key qualities that a minister of the Gospel must have:
1. "must not be quarrelsome": Responding to provocation with aggressive verbal attacks is not becoming of a spiritual leader. 
2. "kind to everyone": Kindness is a quality that seeks to build up not tear down. It's the opposite of harshness which delights in destroying another's self-esteem instead of shoring it up.
3. "able to teach": Whatever medium we use for the Gospel, we must know the Word of God well enough to teach it - whether through preaching, teaching or even in worship. Once we are standing before an audience, we have become teachers of God's Word.
4. "patiently enduring evil": There will always be evil - mostly from the world but some unfortunately coming from within the congregation. Wherever it comes from, the source and root of evil is Satan who sows the seeds of hatred and contempt. As leaders, we are called to "patiently endure" evil - meaning to be willing to suffer over the long haul without complaining.
5. "correcting his opponents with gentleness": Here again, we are called to correct wrong behaviour and belief with gentleness (Greek: meekness). "Meekness" is the opposite of aggressiveness. A meek person can be assertive (speak up for the truth) but he is not aggressive. Jesus is meek - he is assertive (and even angry) but never aggressive nor abusive. In other words, even as he corrects, he is meek in his attitude and approach. 


The motivation for developing such Christ-like attitude and approach is the two-fold goals of all ministry:
(1) Repentance (towards GOD): "God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth." Notice that God is the only one who can cause people to repent. We cannot cause repentance but we can share God's truths with gentleness and respect. So, there is no need to get aggressive and impatient with someone God has not yet granted repentance. 
(2) Rescue (from DEVIL): "they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." Many God-haters are actually under the snare of the devil because they have been "captured by him to do his will." I think of militant atheists like Richard Dawkins who think they are free from the bondage of religion but are in fact under the devil's trap. 


Father, fill our hearts with compassion when we come across those who oppose the truth for they are under the devil's snare. Give us the grace to correct errors but with gentleness and respect. Amen.