Perhaps it is this season in my life, but I sense a growing alienation from this world. I find myself in a technocratic, post-Christian age that does not see this as the Father’s world. It is their world, where individualism reigns, freedom amounts to pursuing one’s own good, moral values are up to each person, fake news dominates the airwaves, gaining power and wealth are the ultimate objectives, and God is irrelevant.
On its surface, this passage looks like it means that one’s eternal salvation is determined by one’s acts of compassion. Whenever we help the disenfranchised and the downtrodden of society, our entrance into heaven is all the more assured. On the other hand, as I heard one famous teacher describe it, Jesus will turn away at the final judgment from self-identifying Christians who failed to help the poor during their lifetime, saying, “I don’t want to hear it!”
In my previous post, I took up the question of what the Bible has to say about the relationship between the local church and missions. I began by looking at the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:13-20. Obviously, Jesus did not outline a full-orbed missions strategy, but his teaching and commands are clearly foundational to the discussion. Before moving to the book of Acts, I would like to look at one more foundational “Jesus-text” – the Great Commission.
Does the Bible say anything about the role that the local church ought to play in missions at the leadership and congregational level? Over the next few weeks, I would like to summarize some preliminary investigations into these questions.
I never dreamed that I would find myself so familiar with death as a pastor. I studied theology in seminary, and learned about expositing a text and church leadership. However, I don’t remember reading a book about what to do when visiting someone on their deathbed. Looking back over the past seven years as a pastor, I’m astonished at how many times I’ve found myself in that exact position. Along the way, I’ve seen firsthand how uncomfortable with death we are as a society. Most people don’t know what to do or say in those moments, and so they call for a pastor.