When is the last time you’ve read Romans 8? The family of God is plagued with people who desperately need encouragement in life, living, and leading. There’s a huge number of people who are trying to identify their lives with Christ, and yet a majority of books and blogs that are out there are hurting the church instead of encouraging them, spurring them on toward love and good deeds. Sometimes it’s important to know what’s wrong and what’s right, but again, we can tell what the wrong thing is when we’re taught what right looks like.
I need to be reminded constantly, every day even, that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives within me. I need the reminder that the same One who orchestrated the events of Creation is in the process of orchestrating a life that pleasing to Him. I need to hear that the same One who authored the #1 best seller of all time is constantly authoring my faith in Him until He takes me home to be with Him, to live in the place I was made for, to have the body He intended me to have from my beginning, the eternal one that sees hope fulfilled. I need to be reminded that even though I may not know what to say to God, there are two intercessors on my side, the Holy Spirit groaning in God language and the Savior who sits next to Him.
What has happened to pastors? Are we pastoring or condemning? I read this verse that’s changed the way I view the “church today,” that common phrase that precedes a rebuke, the claim that we’ve been doing the wrong thing for years and won’t change or have difficulty changing. So here’s my rebuke for those who lob grenades into God’s camp…
Shut up! Change your view of the church and your language! Learn from those who know how to preach a gospel message of mercy and grace without the manipulation of guilt. Guilt is good. It can train us to do the right thing. But sticking something bigger in the wound isn’t going to help it heal.
Paul was the best at this and we can see it from his letters to the Roman church. Before the encouragement came, he identified himself with them, the same things they struggle with he did too. At the end of each letter he wrote, he gave them hope to stand firm even when it’s tough.
There’s a constant trend that we keep forgetting. People live in the world and until they’ve passed on it’s going to be hard to live like Jesus. Paul knew this, identified himself with it, then he launched a grenade of encouragement and hope in the camp. I can imagine their reaction, “You mean I’m not alone? You mean this will keep on happening? You mean God is for me even when it seems like He’s not? God’s faithful to me too, even when everything’s crashing down around me?”
8:12 and following, “I’m a son of God! His Spirit testifies with mine that I belong to Him! God has given me everything that belongs to Him! I’m an heir with Christ!” Paul states that even creation longs for redemption, to see the sons of God to be revealed! Why? Because it’s falling apart and it knows it.
Do you see? The people of God need encouragement to hang on because it’s hard to. They live with people who distress mercy, who distress grace because they don’t believe there is any. And we’re used to hurting them because of it without any help to lift them up beyond it.
Then verses 33-34 says that God justifies…who is he that condemns? Arrogant pastors. The ones God justified, the ones on whose side He’s on, we spend time accusing and abusing. “The modern church…” then you fill it in. “The church today _______.” We’ve got to stop!
This is the group of people whom God has chosen to proclaim His message of love to the world! If you don’t love the church, stop being a pastor and learn how to be a follower! I submit that those who condemn the church of God without encouraging them aren’t following Christ either. It has become for them an are of pride.
Love the church! Love this messy group of people who come to God with all kinds of problems seeking help from the One who selflessly and bountifully gives all things! God has an idea for a people whom He’s called His own, a people for whom He died…a form of life that looks like what He originally intended. It’s our glorious calling to proclaim freedom to them so they can!