Monday, September 26, 2011

Manly Monday; intimacy

No, not that kind of intimacy, though if you do it right, yes, it'll tend to lead there if you're married.  I'm talking about the closeness and love that is consistently displayed in Paul's epistles. 

No kidding; we tend to think that we moderns understand what Paul was getting at because, after all, Paul was born in the Greek area of Tarsus, and we have learned our logic from Aristotle, right?  OK, scotch that, because most of us never really learned our logic.  Maybe we'd better recheck our assumptions; do we really understand Paul, or are we simply using his Greekness to impose our own worldview on Paul?

My take is that most of the sermons that I've heard about the epistles concentrate....mostly on what we'd call "dry doctrine" today, and not on the incredible relationship that Paul has with the churches.  Examples?  Sure.  What about the lists of people to greet and the end of each epistle?  What about....the persistent use of "you"?

Or, more directly, look at 1 Thess. 5:12; we are told to "know" them which labor among us--"eidenai" in the Greek, also used for knowing God.  Now it's translated "recognize" in the NKJ, "respect" in the NIV, but the root word is still to "know."  And how would we properly recognize or respect those who work among us if....we did not know them?  Being from the Greek, it's of course not the word we remember from Genesis, but......yes, I have to wonder if Paul is pointing here to some very close relationships existed in these early churches.

So, dear brother, do you know your pastor?  Ever had him and his family over for dinner?  Played golf with him?  Greet him while he's running?  Gotten to understand his struggles and weaknesses?

Are you in a church where that is possible, or has the pastor allowed his flock to grow to where....the sheep do not know the shepherd's voice any more?  How are you ministering to your own flock?  Do they know their shepherd?  Do your precious ewe know her shepherd's voice? 

And now you see how listening to Paul can benefit you in more ways than spiritually.  Listen closely; there is doctrine there, but it's buried in a flood of Paul's affection for those he serves.


Joanna said...

That's funny that you should point that out. We were going to a church where the population is counted between 2 or 3 thousand. I told my husband several weeks ago that I thought the pastor was more like Paul, than a pastor of a church; he doesn't pull any punches and he speaks the truth, but it's rare for you to meet him. He does 3 live services a week, there are two recorded services, and one in Spanish. He's a busy man. I think he should be a Paul to us and not a pastor. One of my main problems with the church is how impersonal it is. "Join a Life Group" they say. Posh. What about doing life together? It's hard to find intimacy at all in any church in a big city.

Bike Bubba said...

Maybe he should be a Paul--say more like John Piper in writing and such--or, maybe he should be a pastor and not try to be a Paul. Keep in mind here that when one person tries to minister to too many, you're basically assured that (a) he can't be discipling the congregation, (b) he will be standing in the way of young men who ought to be deacons and elders, and (c) he's probably also creating physical edifice that will be a financial albatross to his successor.

Bike Bubba said...

By the way, one of the closest experiences I've had in a church was in the big city of LA--in a mostly asian/chinese church no less. I knew people had accepted me when they started telling me Chinese jokes. At least after I realized what was happening and I figured out that the jokes were really, really funny.

Joanna said...

I agree he can't be disciplining the congregation. He does a good job and challenging them, but there is no follow through. It's easy to shrug off his challenge once you leave the church. If you need to talk to anyone, you must talk to one of his sub-pastors. Only the people with the most extreme needs get to speak to him.

Huh. I have no idea how they do deacons and elders.

Surprisingly, the building isn't that ostentatious or big (hence, so many services), but it was encumbered with an enormous debt from the previous pastor. And with so many congregants, it can only get worse. They are currently paving the parking lot and they've recently built and "youth center." So, yes, you're right about the ridiculous edificial albatross (not that that's a real word).

We moved to another church that does the family integrated thing. It was lovely to speak to the pastor and the pastor's wife extensively the first day we visited.

Bike Bubba said...

Did you mean "disciplining" or "discipling"? Same root, far different application in most cases. And when you have your new pastor and his family over for dinner or dessert, you open yourself up for the latter--and it's an awesome thing. And I love the phrase "edificial albatross".

Joanna said...

HA! Sorry. Discipling. Too many distractions.

My husband is a "no crap" kind of guy, so he's asked several of our pastors to go to lunch or have dinner so he can ask them questions. I'm not sure whether it's because they're scared of him (don't know how to answer his questions) or they're too busy or what, but they've all said no. As a kid, I can remember playing flag football with my pastor and his family in an empty field and having Thanksgiving dinner with them. Where have all the pastors gone?

Joanna said...

Oh, and that's funny about the Chinese church.