To my fellow disciples of Jesus Christ. I am weary.
I am weary of being viewed as “suspect” because of the translation of the Bible I read, my ignorance of the latest Christian music, or because I have a mistrust of large-event evangelism. I'm your brother in Christ, and we are called to proclaim the same Gospel, we don't need to match up on every cultural expression.
I am weary of being told worship is a waste of time because there are so many more urgent things which need doing. I appreciate the gifts of my brothers and sisters in Christ whose primary calling is to the ministries of care and compassion. I applaud you, and you both teach and challenge me with your prophetic presense. Please understand, my gifts lead me to ponder worship deeply. It is my calling. I have a deep love of the Christian worship tradition, and a passion to invite others into it's mystical reality. I do this so that, in experiencing the mystical communion of saints in Heaven and on Earth through the liturgy, we all might be strengthened for mission. If you challenge me to be out doing urgent things, perhaps my calling is to challenge you to accept God's space for doing “deep” things. So please, stop telling me how much worship is holding the Church back. It makes my soul ache.
I'm weary of being probed by my fellow disciples to see where I stand on [insert issue here]. Conservative disciples want to know what I think about home-schooling, the age of the earth, how bad a job I think the president is doing, and whether or not I think penal substitutionary atonement is the theory of the atonement. Liberal disciples poke me on the nature of salvation, gay marriage, how bad a job I think congress is doing, and whether or not I think penal substitutionary atonement is nothing more than horrific cosmic child-abuse. I preach Christ crucified, the Second Person of the Trinity in human flesh (fully God and fully Human) – but I often feel it's not enough. If I disagree on any of these issues, and scores of others, I often feel like I will be rejected both as a pastor and as a Christian. In fact, I have experienced such rejection when I dared to speak up with anything but absolute agreement.
So I am weary, but I still hope. I am a servant of The Lord Jesus, called to be a pastor in an era where cultural institutions are under incredible scrutiny and fire. Often from supposedly friendly sources. To this I am called, and it is what I'll continue doing until I am told to stop. But I am weary, brothers and sisters, of feeling as though I just can't measure up to your standards.
To Central Baptist I can only say, “Thanks.” The space you continue to give me for my quirks, weariness, and energy has blessed me more than you can possibly know. I can honestly remark if I were not the pastor of Central Baptist, it is a congregation among whom I could worship, learn, and serve.