Growing up “Christian” as a believer in a believing family of believers, I have known many pastors that have come and gone in my life. Most were great influencers of my growth in Jesus’ love and in serving like He served. Those that influenced me the most were those who took great joy in seeing me grow more than taking pride in their work in me because they knew it was fully God doing all the heavy lifting in my growth. I have learned that the humble, most loving pastor influencers in my life had no arrogance, had great experience in failing as well as achieving, and learned from their own experiences. Those who knew pain and hurt from others were the best to “coach” me through my own experiences so I could grow and not fall back in ways that would not be good for me or the people I served alongside.
When God called Randy and I to leadership in His church, we leaned heavily on those who had gone before us, who loved well, who were wise in dealing with “extra grace required” people who would try to trip us up in leading. One particular instance that made me stop and think, (and there were many times like these), was by one mature pastor friend and mentor. He listened to my rants about the meanness of congregational members to us and to each other. I was disappointed and hurt because “these people” were stopping the progress of what we needed to achieve—at least in my small thinking. After patiently listening, he asked, “Do you love the people God has placed in your care?”
After stammering a bit, I stopped to think about that question and take it to heart. I pretty sure he knew I would. After a pause, I said, “Yes, with the love of Jesus in me, yes.” But I was not as enthusiastic as I felt I should have been. That’s when the love of God took over in pastoring. I began to love “them” more than being upset by the meanness, repaying evil with love and service until I could, without hesitation, answer the question, “do you love them?” with a truthful, resounding, “YES!”
We must lead as Jesus led. He taught us to love each other by serving each other—even washing feet before laying down his life for ours. This is love—putting aside our hurt, disappointments and wonderings about the behavior of those who are growing as we are growing and just Love—in Spirit and in Truth.
John is the kind of pastor who mentors well. He is one who teaches us to grow in the perfect love of God. We are not perfect people, none of us are “good” but we are perfectly forgiven by the One and Only who loved us first. We must love like God loves, no matter what, as if our very lives depended on it—because it does! Thank you, John for teaching us real Love in authentic relationships.
JOHN—GOD AND LOVE
2 John 1, The Message
1-2 My dear congregation, I, your pastor, love you in very truth. And I’m not alone—everyone who knows the Truth that has taken up permanent residence in us loves you.
3 Let grace, mercy, and peace be with us in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, Son of the Father!
4-6 I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father. But permit me a reminder, friends, and this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other. Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you heard, and nothing has changed.
Don’t Walk Out on God
7 There are a lot of smooth-talking con artists loose in the world who refuse to believe that Jesus Christ was truly human, a flesh-and-blood human being. Give them their true title: Deceiver! Antichrist!
8-9 And be very careful around them so you don’t lose out on what we’ve worked so diligently in together; I want you to get every reward you have coming to you. Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son.
10-11 If anyone shows up who doesn’t hold to this teaching, don’t invite him in and give him the run of the place. That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner.
12-13 I have a lot more things to tell you, but I’d rather not use paper and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk. That will be far more satisfying to both you and me. Everyone here in your sister congregation sends greetings.
There are so many lessons yet to learn about your perfect Love in us that should be guiding all we think, say and do. Help us, Lord, to love with your great Love in us.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen