Posts tagged Love
Affection and Pastoral Ministry

Wendell Berry writes about the way “morality, even religious morality,” is insufficient to motivate our care of the land. Knowing that we should live our lives in such a way that the land, and the people who live and work on it, are conserved and cherished is very different from actually doing it. The gap between what we should do and what we actually do is only bridged, in Berry’s mind, by affection.[1]

I think this equally applies to our concern and care for people.

We will have a hard time caring for those entrusted to us if we’re only relying on our sense of morality. We may visit the sick in the hospital, call someone who missed church, or send a note of encouragement to someone going through a difficult time because we know it’s what a pastor should do. But shouldn’t a pastor do other things too? Isn’t he supposed to preach the Word? And study to show himself approved? Shouldn’t he cast vision and lead people?

If he should do all these things, does he? Probably most of the time, but when he can’t because there aren’t enough hours in a day, what gets dropped? I think it’s the thing for which he has the least affection. Hopefully that’s not caring for people.

How can you determine if you care for people out of obligation or because you love it? Do you have a sense of “informed sorrow” for them? Is your imagination filled with a vision of what God might do in them if you give them focused attention? Do you love them?[2]

  1. Wendell Berry, “It All Turns on Affection,” in It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture & Other Essays (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2012), 32–33.
  2. Ibid., 34.  ↩

Belief and Love

In a time of outspoken atheism and decreasing religious affiliation, Christians might be tempted to highlight the distinction between those who believe in God and those who don't. On first glance, this approach seems helpful. At work the believers know who they can greet with "Merry Christmas"or "Happy Holidays," while students know who to group up with to discuss the new Hillsong CD. While I'm all for Christians encouraging one another, and for avoiding needless confrontation as we seek to be good neighbors (Rom 12:18), on closer inspection this distinction actually misses a more important one: those who love God and those who do not.

For one, Scripture indicates that, in one sense, belief is a relatively insignificant factor in determining one's standing with God. As James puts it, "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder" (James 2:19). In other words, if we maintain a spreadsheet exclusively divided between "belief" and "unbelief," the demons go under "belief." That's not helpful.

The more important category is "Those-Who-Do-Something-With-Their-Belief," or those people for whom belief takes root and overflows into a life of devotion to Christ. They are those who love Jesus and "keep his commandments" (John 14:15). Indeed, "this is the love for God, that we keep his commandments" (1 John 5:3). More significantly, it is not only those who do not believe who are condemned (as the belief vs. unbelief distinction might imply). Paul puts a fine point on it: "If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed" (1 Cor 16:22). Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that mere belief is enough; "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26).

One Warning: If we were to change the way we think by shifting from belief to love as the distinguishing characteristic between the church and the world, we would have to face a startling reality, some of us may find ourselves in an unexpected column. Lord, help us love you, "not with word and talk, but in deed and truth" (1 John 3:18).

smorgasbord of quotes from tgc
• For the sake of brevity I’ve decided to list some highlighted quotes from this year's gospel coalition conference holus bolus.

We must remember who God is and what He has done for us, in us, and ultimately for Himself. God has been faithful to Himself. – Matt Chandler

The unrighteousness in the leadership seeps through and becomes the unrighteousness of the people. They drink in sin and pour it out for God’s people to drink. – Conrad Mbewe

The more you understand holiness and love, the more you understand how the Bible is put together. – Don Carson

Rob Bell is saying that a sinful and rebellious world is worth of God’s love and He is obligated to show favor to sinful humanity. – Stephen Um

Spiritual leaders should be the destination for others to arrive at. – Crawford Loritts

The very nature of human rebellion is that we would be the judge of God. – Kevin DeYoung

Ministry is not what we do for God, it is what God does through us, and sometimes in spite of us. – Mark Driscoll

Our thoughts, preaching, and personal treasuring of the gospel should always include the consummation of the redeeming work of God in Christ. The vision of God’s joy over His people is the end to which it is all moving. – Mike Bullmoore

Worshipping God and something else is not worshiping God at all. – Mike Bullmoore

When we use what God gave us to glorify, without giving Him any of the glory, we blaspheme.  – Matt Chandler

A holy God does not need to be justified, it is sinners who need justification from a holy God. – Stephen Um

Let us not a la carte God’s attributes, to elevate one of God’s attributes over others is to prostitute God. – Crawford Loritts

There are two ways to build a church. You can build a church around the strengths and gifts of one personality, or you can build it around multiplication and New Testament discipleship where you raise up new leaders. – Crawford Loritts

Remembering rightly redeems our rejoicing. – Matt Chandler

The greatest gift I can give my church is my personal holiness. – Tim Keller

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to always be suffering to be sanctified. Your fun is not juxtaposed to your holiness. – Mark Driscoll

Because of Christ, God’s heart is completely for us; and His heart is large. – Mike Bullmoore

You must not think that hell is comprised of people who are screaming out, I get it now. It is filled with people who for all of eternity are so self focused that even there, for all of eternity, they will still not realize what Christ has done for them. – Don Carson

We must see God’s love and His wrath as an ecosystem. If we make little of God’s wrath, we make little of His love. – Tim Keller

A sin against an infinite being is a sin that has infinite consequences. – Tim Keller

Paul is continually proclaiming the Gospel to those who already know because we are prone to wander, prone to forget, or worst of all, to assume it. – Matt Chandler

The Bible is not powerful because it is inerrant. The Bible is true, but so is the phone book. The difference is, the Bible was penned by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; it is God revealing Himself to us. – Mark Driscoll

Everyone wants Pauline theology but not Pauline pain; his depth and breadth was paid for in suffering. – Matt Chandler

The glory of the gospel is this, the one from whom we need to be saved is the one who saved us. – Mike Bullmoore

God takes the leadership of His flock seriously; if you do not, resign. – Conrad Mbewe

We must love theology, but theology is to get the gospel straight so that we may take it to the ends of the earth. – Mark Driscoll

Many have not been converted, but have only conformed their life around religion. – Matt Chandler

Yes I have seen some people healed. All the time? No, but that’s why we call it a miracle and not Wednesday. – Mark Driscoll

If God would have only sent us human leaders sin would always reign supreme, that is why He sent Another. – Conrad Mbewe

At the cross all the attribute of God win. – Tim Keller

Do not assume the Gospel, it has to be constantly explicit. When you assume the Gospel all people will hear is moralistic therapeutic deism. – Matt Chandler