Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pastors, Finish the Race!

The below two YouTube videos are from the Academy Award winner for best film of 1982, Chariots of Fire, and if you haven't seen it yet, you ought to. Based upon a true story, the film has a scene (included in the first video below) in which the Prince of Wales is trying to pressure Eric Liddell (pictured right), a strict Scottish Presbyterian, to run in the Olympic Games on a Sunday, which was against his convictions.

After he continues to refuse to run on Sunday, to compromise his convictions, one member of the British Athletic Committee admits that they had attempted to separate Erich Liddell the runner from Erich Liddel the Christian, and since Liddell was a thoroughly integrated man of Christian conviction, it was not only wrong, but futile:
He did have us beaten, and thank God he did! The lad, as you call him, is a true man of principle and a true athlete. His speed is only an extension of his life, his force. We sought to sever his running from himself.
The United Kingdom could not have the runner without the Christian, as Liddell's running was a mere extension of his Christian faith.

But I wonder how much 'conflict resolution' in churches today looks the same as the meeting (in the first video) below, for I am afraid that much of such 'counseling' in the secular world is based upon the proposition that all conflicts can be resolve because of an implicit acceptance of some type of egalitarianism rooted in relativism. I pray that such thinking has not made its way into the Church!

Romans 12 has much good counsel that can guide our behavior toward those with whom we disagree, but regarding liberal 'conflict resolution' techniques, verse 18 is directly applicable:
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men!"
If possible are the two key words here. There will be times when pastors will find themselves up against the wall and must, by God's grace, stand fast to their Confession. Do not compromise! Most good pastors are certainly willing to compromise in adiaphora, but any attempts by groups or individuals to manipulate or pressure God's ministers into compromising their biblical convictions regarding the ministry of Word and Sacrament ought to be publicly exposed as evil and opposed by all of God's people.

Dear pastors, please stand firm and true in the ministry to which Christ has called you -- for our sake and the sake of our children and grandchildren!

Please finish the race!

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

-2 Timothy 4:1-7

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