Several years ago I ordered a copy of God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology by Gerald Bray. Upon delivery, I put the book on my “to read” shelf, aka the black hole of my office. Recently I delved into my black hole and pulled Bray’s book off the shelf. Almost immediately I wished I had never put God is Love at the end of my reading queue. Then I came to the end of chapter 6, “Theology and Faith.” The three final paragraphs of this chapter are three of the greatest paragraphs I’ve ever read, and they contain invaluable wisdom for regular pastors. Bray writes:
“We live in a media world where much is made of pastors who have built mega-churches, of preachers who have become international stars, and of writers who have sold more than a million copies of their books. All too often, those aspiring to serve in ministry are encouraged to look to them as models and to wonder what they can do to achieve comparable success. In academic life, universities are inundated by students wanting a doctorate because they think it is a necessary qualification for Christian service, and even some churches expect their ministers to have such qualifications.
“There is nothing wrong with any of these things in themselves, but if they become idols they will replace God in our lives and do great damage, both to us and to the wider church. There can be no substitute for a humble and contrite heart, as even the great King David had to learn. Sadly, there are many who started off as shining lights for Christ but have since fallen by the wayside, lured away from the truth by the attractions of academia. Having sought to gain the whole world by their brilliance, they have ended up losing their own soul, and the whole church is poorer as a result.
“Those who embark on theological study must be warned that they are treading on holy ground, and that they are marked men in the eyes of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Those who will be found worthy of the task that lies before them are those whose hearts are nourished by love and whose minds are enriched by faith and faithfulness to God and his word. The language of theology is the language of love, because it is in love that God sent his Son to save us. It is in that spirit that we are called to go forward, and in that spirit alone that we shall one day stand in his presence, when all things will be revealed and we shall know even as we have been fully known.” (100-101)
If you’re a regular pastor, don’t miss these thoughts:
- The “media world” has tremendous influence on churches today.
- Aspiring pastors are encouraged to be like celebrity pastors.
- Education becomes an idol for many preparing for ministry.
- Many pastors have lost their soul even as they gained the world.
- Embarking on theological study makes you a marked man.
- Faithfulness to God and faithfulness to his word must be our aim.
If these thoughts resonate with you, order a copy of God Is Love today!