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Monday, March 4, 2013

Don’t Be Afraid to Tick People Off

Sometimes I just can’t believe some of the crazy stuff that I have seen in the ministry. There was no amount of training in Seminary that could have prepared me for these strange situations that I continually find myself facing. Today, I am going to relate to you the curious case of the reformed Jehovah’s Witness.

A woman started attending my church and introduced herself as having grown up in the Jehovah’s Witness movement. She told me she wanted to join my church and wanted to learn what it meant to be a Baptist. So we set up an appointment and we got together to talk about God. I have a basic Christian theology course that I teach everyone who wants to join my church. I don’t teach anything that is too complicated. I just stick with the fundamentals of the faith. And the fundamentals include a section on the Trinity. God is three and God is one. This didn't sit well with my aspiring Christian, and ex-Witness.

The Jehovah’s Witness movement started in the 1870’s and are considered heretics by main stream Christianity. They reject the concept of the Holy Trinity; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that God is three distinct individuals, unified as one. This is a difficult concept to accept. The early Christian Church had a difficult time putting the theology together. Many Christians believed that there was a time when there was only God the Father, before God the Son and Spirit came into existence. This helped them understand the passage in Deuteronomy that says; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. The problem is under this teaching God the Son and God the Holy Spirit would be creatures. They would be part of the created, and therefore not divine. The Gospel of John says that Jesus is the divine Son of God come to earth. The book of Genesis has God’s divine Spirit hovering over the waters prior to the creation. And so, early Christians developed the formula; God is three and God is one.

I explained all of this to my friend and she left our church, never to return. I never thought that I would get into trouble with someone explaining 2,000 year old Christian theology. I guess I never thought I would experience any of the crazy stuff I have run into since becoming a minister.

The good news is I seemed to have turned a corner in my ministry. Ten years ago I would have retreated from a challenge to Christian doctrine. I would have been scared to death of losing a potential member, and thus would have back pedaled away from a straight forward doctrinal statement. I would have tried to smooth out some part of the Christian faith. Ten years ago I was afraid of failing in my attempts to grow my church. Now I’m OK with it. I have learned the important lesson, Jesus wasn't sent to this earth to make everyone happy and neither was I.

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34.

Jesus ticked a lot of people off. He didn't do it intentionally, like some cheap late night comic. He did it to communicate to people the truth. If they didn't like the truth, Jesus didn't let it bother him.

            Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6.

So if I tick people off while I am teaching them the truth, then I guess I stand in pretty good company. I think after this experience I will try to prepare future ministers by creating a Seminary course called; Truth and Consequences.


Pastor Bill

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