Have you ever noticed how the religious organizations introduce people? I have been in ministry almost 20 years and have noticed a growing trend toward lengthy introductions. It gets worse when it comes to election time for convention leadership, whether state or national. Someone will stand and give a nomination/introduction that is well articulated and respectful. However, we have developed a pattern of what we want and don’t want, haven’t we?
I once asked why, when our state convention is made up of mostly smaller churches, we don’t hear more often from them during preaching times. The answer I received was because that is not who the people want to hear. We want to hear the “Big Boys”. We desire to hear from those who have grown massive churches and can somehow pass along the crumbs to us dogs who are still in the smaller church. We want to listen to creativity and charm. We want, if we are honest, to be them. The same is true, most of the time, for those who receive nominations and elections to positions. I have had the pleasure and honor to serve our state convention though I am certainly not one of the mighty men of the state. I was, and am, grateful for the opportunity. More should serve our convention and help move us along in the Kingdom.
Still, though, as the one who would introduce us to the person approaches papers/cards are pulled out so that all the facts would be on display for us all to hear. Sometimes, for the best and most creative, a powerpoint is produced as well. Their great accomplishments are touted before us: church growth, CP giving, family mindset, etc.
Have you ever heard someone be introduced in the way Paul describes his service to Christ? Notice the question in verse 23 and subsequent answer.
21 I say this to [our] shame: We have been weak.
But in whatever anyone dares [to boast]-I am talking foolishly-I also dare:
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I.
Are they Israelites? So am I.
Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
23 Are they servants of Christ?
I’m talking like a madman-I’m a better one:
with far more labors,
many more imprisonments,
far worse beatings, near death many times.
24 Five times I received 39 lashes from Jews.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods [by the Romans].
Once I was stoned [by my enemies].
Three times I was shipwrecked.
I have spent a night and a day
in the open sea.
26 On frequent journeys, [I faced]
dangers from rivers,
dangers from robbers,
dangers from my own people,
dangers from the Gentiles,
dangers in the city,
dangers in the open country,
dangers on the sea,
and dangers among false brothers;
27 labor and hardship,
many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst,
often without food, cold, and lacking clothing.
2 Corinthians 11
If we were to ask how a person was a servant of Christ our answer, sadly, would be different. We would talk about how many people attend. We would talk about how many programs we have started. We would talk about the % giving to Cooperative Program. In this time, we might be so bold as to talk about our Total Missions giving in order to hide the lack of Cooperative Program funds being given. We would hear of the great family and friendships. We would hear, well, we would hear all the things that soothe our passions. We all want church growth, a great family, and friends. We, in the SBC, will shout praises of the man who leads their church on mission and mission giving.
Yet, when Paul speaks of being a servant of Christ, he speaks on different terms. He has been imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and various dangers. Where are these men? Why do we not have a passion for this type of person? God bless our vocational missionaries in the national and global spectrum who provide us with such resumes and records. However, why do we not hear of this from our pastors, state leaders, and national leadership? We go to various places on vision trips to catch a vision for what we hope to go back and lead people to do. Why? Is the mission set forth by Christ not motivating enough? Are we somehow too seared in our collective conscious that we cannot feel the passion of God to reach the lost? Is Paul too unimpressive for us to follow to the ends of the Earth?
May we seek leaders who have been on the front lines for the Kingdom more than in the administration of it. May we go. May we gather. May we glorify God. In the process, take others with you so that we raise up a generation who will take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We have 6000+ people groups needing the gospel. May we lead our people to those people for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.