Thoughts about my thoughts...

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by ScottEmerson, Apr 15, 2006.

  1. ScottEmerson

    ScottEmerson
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    I'm posting this here because a) I'm an ordained minister and b) it has stuff to do about how we are all ministers. Would anyone be willing to contribute some thoughts?

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    Last night, there was a mini-debate about movies while we were enjoying supper at Bennigan's. There was a group of students who wanted to go see V for Vendetta. I knew what the themes in that movie were as well as knowing that there were over 30 bad words (a good number were definitely R-material) as well as several shots of naked women. (Thatnks, screenit.com). I casually (or some might say purposefully) began switching the tide to having everyone see Benchwarmers which, although it was an Adam Sandler movie, was fairly clean. Everyone saw that movie, and most of them had a good time.

    This debate led to a bigger theme in my head relating to a number of themes including legalism, being a Pharisee, and freedom in Christ. We talk about freedom in Christ a lot. There are many who think that because of their salvation they are "free" to do whatever they want. We've had a youth minister here who held onto that idea. The word in Galatians 5:1 for freedom is eleutheria, which means "liberty to do or to omit things having no relationship to salvation." It is saying that we are free from a sacrificial system, but is it saying that we can do what we want whenever we want?

    I don't think so for two main reasons. First, the NT is filled with many, many commands about what to do and what not to do. If we were free to do whatever we wanted, then those commands would be moot or, worse, we would have a terrible contradiction in God's word. Second, I think that perhaps we have a much better understanding about what we are saved to than what we are saved from. We like the idea of heaven and that we get to have a relationship with God. But we may not think about how our regeneration has set us free from the law of sin and death. We don't have to do all those things that put a damper on our life or on others' lives.

    The second point, besides freedom, is something that I've been thinking abuot for the last three weeks or so. In II Corinthians, Paul calls us an ambassador for Christ, involved in the ministry of reconciliation. Everyone of us who is saved. Not just those who are ordained or super-spiritual. Everyone. Everyone who sat around that table last night is a minister. There are several things that I stopped doing once I became a minister, as if ordaining me by a local church made me more holy than it did seconds before. That's just silly. God's standards didn't change. In fact, all of the characteristiscs of a deacon or a pastor are characteristics that everyone of us are supposed to have.

    So what does this mean for us? I'll tell you what it means for me. There are people watching every step I make, just as there are people watching every step that you make. They're waiting to see who you really are and if this salvation thing is real in your life.

    I know that if I go and watch an R-rated movie, then it justifies it for someone else. Even though I know that if I were to see one, the words honestly wouldn't bother me and that I know that whenever there is a scene with nakedness on it I close my eyes, I can't say that others would do the same thing. There's also this idea of paying to watch sin that Christ had to die for.

    I know that if I drink alcohol, then it justifies drinking for someone else. I know that drinking in small quantities is not prohibited by the Bible, so long as intoxication does not occur. Even though I may have the fortitude to drink one and not get drunk, I know that way too many people do not have that self-control. So as I encourage others to stay away, I stay away myself.

    I know that I could go to a club with my wife and we would not drink and dance only with each other. However, that would justify clubbing for someone else. I know what goes on in guys' minds when they dance that way with someone who is not their wife - I've been there. So as I encourage others to not go to a club, I don't go myself.

    I made it up in my mind a long time ago that I wouldn't go on a date with a non-Christian. Not one. Could I have done it and not sinned? Maybe. But I know where that road leads, just as I have seen where it leads for so many people. And I can honestly say that I never went on a date with a non-Christian, and I'm so much better for that. So I entreat everyone I see to not get involved with non-Christians.

    Is this legalism? I don't think so. These are things that I choose not to do because I'm all about the law, but all about love. I've been a victim of all of these things, and I know that I've experienced the forgiveness of Christ, but I carry those memories with me, and will carry them until I die. God hasn't called just me and my other ordained minister-people to a higher standard; he's called us all to such a standard. Each one of us has to take a stand - draw a line in the sand - and say that certain things are or are not okay.

    We live in a community of faith. Luther Crenshaw is over eighty years old, and he is my brother in Christ. Catherine Caple is 12 and she is my sister in Christ. I have a responsibility to both of these, as I do everyone else who claims the name of Christ. You have the same responsibility. We are Christ's ambassadors - or Christ's representatives - here on earth. And we haven't been saved for our benefit alone - we've been saved for the world's. I think if we could grasp that, a lot of our decisions would be made easier.

    But, let's face it. It's fun to laugh at comedy, no matter if it's R or not, and we could miss some good entertainment if we cut out R-rated movies. I know people like to unwind with a beer after work, and they would miss that if they were to not have that part of their life. I know people who really enjoy clubbing, and they would miss some social interaction if they removed that from their life. However, from an eternal perspective, it's much more important to live a life above reproach, a life that points people (Christians or not) to Jesus Christ and that freedom that can be found in him.

    I'm not referring to spending time with non-Christians - just as long as we're very specific for the reasons we're doing that. If we're not actively trying to point them to Christ, then I have serious problems with that as well (as can be seen above.)

    Now there are going to be those who disagree with me. And that's fine. A great number of Christians do so by way of their actions. But I would ask that they back up their assertions with Scripture. And I ask that all of you, whether you are students or adults, hold me accountable in this area, because you can be assured that I will ask pointed questions to you as well.

    Let's move beyond a Christianity that looks and feels like everyone else, and towards a Christianity that is refreshin, life-changing, and has the power to reconcile the world to Christ.
     
  2. GODzThunder

    GODzThunder
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    I always ask this question... Is the movie I want to see one that I would watch if Jesus was attending with me? Would I take our Lord and Savior to that movie or be too embarassed to suggest us going to see that one! (In truth this disqualifies most movies and TV shows :(
     
  3. MRCoon

    MRCoon
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    A Pastor is more so a public example of what a Christian is to be because it is not just your belief but your job. Me I'm a Marine by vocation (for a just a few months more) and a Christian by belief...so while some may know I'm a Christian because of my testimony others know my Pastor is a preacher by his advertisement in the phone book. So I say this to say that while I totally agree with your concept of all Christians being 'Ministers' I also think that actual Pastors are held to a higher standard because more people (both ones you know and don't know) know and see you as a Christian.

    On the other hand, I was discussing with a friend about the idea of drinking alcohol as a Christian. He quoted scripture that seemingly says you can drink but not get drunk and other scripture that says it is not to be doen at all and he asked me what I held as a conviction. I simply told him what I tell everyone about my convictions...if I can do something and in that snapshot of a moment not cause another person (saved or unsaved) to question my Christianity or to cause them doubts then fine do it. Can soemone see me with a beer and know in htat moment that I'm only drinking one (out of moderation)? No Can someone see me enter a movie theatre and know I was not watching that bad R Rated movie? No Because while we have the liberty to do whatever we want it does not give us the freedom to do it. I'm a Marine...I am an American Citizen...I've done more and am in place to protect our countries freedom more than the average American yet I have less personal freedom than the average American Citizen...why? Because as a Marine I'm held to a higher standard and a more personal involvment and realize that while I can get as fat as I want or live as reckless as I want that these things interfere with my function as a Marine. So it is in this thing we call the "Christian Walk".

    I smoke and drink as much as I want to...but as a Christian my 'want to' has been changed!!
     
  4. doulous

    doulous
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    This is an excellent topic. I have wavered on an off about what are the correct choices to make as a Christian and an elder in the church. Do I believe that, as and elder, I should restrain some of my liberties for the sake of the church? Truth be told that is not an easy question to answer.

    Culture partially dictates what is socially acceptable. Churches that do not teach the true cost of discipleship often reflect the prevailing social conditions. We must keep in mind that people are watching. We must walk circumspectly. Perfect? It will never happen. We will fall and make mistakes. The question to ask is, do people see Christ in us? Do the choices we make echo our faith in Christ?

    Is it sinful to go see a movie? No. If you view a certain type of movie and it causes your mind to dwell on thoughts that are unholy, is that sin? If not it certainly is skirting the edge too close for comfort. Is going to see V for Vendetta any worse than watching Seinfeld reruns? Think about it. Drinking? The bible says, "Do not be drunk with wine which is excess..." It does not say, "Do not drink." But how would my (our yours) drinking be perceived? What is the view of your church body? We are Baptists, but if we were Presbyterians chances are that this would not be a major issue. Accepted from top to bottom in the Presbyterian churches. I have to teach what God's words says, " Do not be drunk with wine." But also do not be controlled by it either. If my liberty becomes a source of control in my life, it must be sacrificed.
     
  5. Joseph M. Smith

    Joseph M. Smith
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    Excellent post indeed. The key element, to me, is that you forego certain things not because you are afraid nor because you think you are commanded to .. you choose to forego them because you want your witness to be clear. And I think I see between the lines of what you have written the awareness that these things, while they may not harm you, also do not help you, so they are a waste of time and money. You are on the right track.
     
  6. MRCoon

    MRCoon
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    This is one of the best threads here and has so little activity...it shows how easy it is to stir up a hornet's nest but when a real discussion about testimony as a true Christian shows up on the board...very little happens. ;)
     
  7. ScottEmerson

    ScottEmerson
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    Thanks for your thoughts. I posted this on my blog and it started some good debates. I think that the main point was, as "I choose to forego them because I want my witness to be clear." I am very fortunate that the other staff in our student ministry department agree with this, not because they were compelled to, but because they already chose to.

    I think that elders and pastors should be held to a higher standard, not by the congregation necessarily but by themselves. I do wish there was more dialogue on this point, but I guess it's not as exciting as debate about Calvinism, Hillary Clinton, or the KJV-Only people.
     

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