Good morning friends. For the next two weeks my blogs are going to be coming to you a bit later in the day. School is closed for two weeks and I am going to take advantage by trying to sleep in to 7 am each morning.
I appreciate the Word of God for so many reasons as I am sure you do too. One of the greatest things it does for me is show me what I need to be. It is true that every day I open it I find encouragement for where I am that day. It also keeps reminding me of God's character and his promises. It restores joy and hope to me as the words enter in and transform my heart and mind, giving me a better perspective. However, it also reminds me where I am and where I need to be, and I find that to be some of the most challenging moments. I have a choice in those moments to accept what I see or to reject and, sad to say, there are times I choose to reject what I am shown.
I am part of a modern day clergy, which I strongly oppose. I am a believer in the Body, the common priesthood, the calling of every believer to ministry. What I also believe is, I am part of the trainers in the Body, the five-fold that Paul writes about in Ephesians 4. The trainers are suppose to set the example for believers in word and deed and to be the encouragers for those who are coming along in the process of maturity. I must say, I do not have as much confidence as Paul had in this role:
You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. (1 Thessalonians 2:10)
That is a challenge to someone like me who often learns by trial and error. I do not think that Holy, righteous and especially blameless would be used to describe me very often. Funny, crazy, steadfast, determined, enduring maybe, along with a lot of negative things. But I do not think Paul was full of himself here. I think he was sincere in his assessment because he always seemed to know himself through Jesus. That is how he remained so confident in everything he did, he purposefully looked at himself and evaluated himself through Jesus' perspective. If we don't do that we will always see our faults, our short comings, what we are not and refuse to grow into what God sees in us. The fact is, it has been declared over us that we are holy and that we are righteous. It is because God spoke this into us that we are able to walk in it and become what is not possible by any other means. The blameless is the hard one for most people but we have to remember that Jesus died for us just so we could be blameless in our Father's sight. This is how we are seen and the sooner we accept it the sooner we can walk in that same confidence. Then maybe we would be able to start living the next part:
For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. vs 11-12
It is the responsibility of all of us to encourage, comfort, and spur one another on in our walk and progress to maturity, however it is especially the responsibility of the trainers in the Body. This is where I feel some of us trainers stumble. We may be great managers and great visionaries, we may even be great builders with all the modern methods of church growth, but what we are suppose to be is trainers of individuals. The Body does not grow in maturity by large conferences and the many mass tools we use; the Body is about individuals and growth is about individuals. Paul says, "you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children". "Each of you" is what should jump out at you. And how did he and Silas deal with them? Encouraging, comforting and urging them to live lives worthy of God.
Sometimes the trainers in the Body forget our place and we allow personal hurts to affect our reactions to people. We forget that we are alive "in" Jesus so that no one can harm us unless we choose to allow them. Trainers are set apart for the purpose of training. Sometimes the children bite, sometimes they vomit on us, sometimes they pee. Every dad knows that you don't bite back, you don't vomit on them and you certainly don't pee on them. If you did then you would not have the children for long. It is the same in the Body. Trainers need to keep in mind thatoften those who think they are mature are not. Sometimes 6 year olds think they can do something their 16 year old brother can do. They think they are older. Dads have to teach limits to their children according to their age and children do not always like that. Trainers must have thick skin and must be willing to face some abuses without reacting to them. Paul said it beautifully when he wrote to the Romans:
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1)
It is not easy but it is the right thing to do. If trainers kept going around killing everyone who offended them or who attacked them or who vomited on them, there would be no one left in the Body because we are all guilty of it. We are to bear, to carry, to put up with the failings of the weak. We cannot afford to please our own natural reactions in these matters. Jesus has called us to be above that for the sake of those who need to learn and to grow. Our responsibility is to continue in the role of encouraging, comforting and urging them to live lives worthy of God. Step outside of that and you have stepped outside of your purpose as a trainer.