Summary: Jesus must make a difference in the life or we must question if He lives in the heart.
Jesus Must Make a Difference
Forgive me if I don’t use a cutesy illustration to break the ice of today’s topic. I don’t believe this is a topic in which a cutesy illustration is appropriate.
It saddens me that too many times professing Christians act like non-Christians. It amazes me that the High and Holy Jesus Christ could take up residence in someone’s life and you see no spiritual growth or emotional maturity over a long period of time. Yet when I have discussed this with people, I find that it isn’t due to the lack of desire that they have not grown more.
Let me ask you, do you think we as a Church are teaching spiritual growth and emotional growth well enough for our people to really advance in growth? For instance, do you think we are challenging the untruths and selfishness resident in our people’s life for them to address them? Are we giving our people the tools to mature and grow? Or are we more interested in not offending people so we don’t lose support?
I know, there is a sense that speaking this way is trespassing as a Christian. But Jesus spoke this way. He does in our text. He faced the tough issues, said the tough things, and made people uncomfortable while He depended upon the Spirit of God to use the truth to set people free.
Before we get to the scripture, I feel compelled to take a detour. Let me explain something to you that is the one of two of the most difficult parts of my job as pastor.
Heb 13:17-18 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
I don’t care which commentary you check or who preaches and teaches this passage, the message is the same. The ones who are identified as those who keep watch over your souls are your spiritual leaders. As pastor, that falls on me. God called me here, and gave me the assignment, and according to this scripture, I “will have to give an account ” for how I do that and for your progress in it.
If I don’t encourage you to good works, I have to answer for you not doing them. If I don’t challenge your habits and self-reliance, I have to answer for you not dealing with them. That makes the pastor’s position the toughest job in the world. Being responsible for the behavior and spiritual growth of the Church members here is the second toughest job.
Often, a pastor is insulted, accused and betrayed. There is a tendency to treat the pastor and his wife like the Church would allow no other member to be treated. We have to endure comments that are hurtful and upsetting. I continue to ask God, “What do I do when one of them says something hurtful to me? What do I do when they say something hurtful to my wife?”
God’s answer is always the same: “Do as my Son did. Spread your arms and receive the pain, but don’t let it affect your love for them. Don’t treat them any differently, and definitely, do not pull away.”
That is God’s way of saying that, When I think I should not be easily offended, God says, No, I am suppose to be easily offended. To not be offendable is to not care, to pull away.
I am not going to get to personal here to tell you what we have heard other say through the years. I am not saying this for your sympathy. As a matter of fact, I think we could all do better without that.
However, I am saying this to emphasize that, regardless of how badly it hurts, I still have to give answer to God for how these hurtful members grow. I have prayed, “God, please polish your people to be beautiful jewels in your crown. “But please, Lord, Don’t use me as the abrasive.”
God answer that the same way each time. He says, “Just as I use your people to sharpen you, I must use you to sharpen them.” Pro 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Although we are to strive for unity (Ref Hebrews 12:14), we must also realize that God allows some conflict to touch my sinful attitudes and your sinful attitudes.
What I am getting to is this, I believe Jesus has made less of a difference in some Christians life because we have avoided strife instead of benefiting from it by self-analysis, prayer and repentance. I mentioned that this accountability to God for the growth of the people of one of two of the most difficult jobs in the world.