“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:16-21)

God loves sinners! Incredible! He always has! He asked Jonah, “Why should I not love the Assyrians?” (Jonah 4:11). Isaiah said Israel was to be a light to the nations [non-Jewish people] (Isaiah 42:5-7). Jesus said there was more rejoicing in heaven over 1 sinner who repented than 99 righteous people who needed no repentance (Luke 15:7). Paul said Christ died for people while they were still sinners (Romans 5:8). God loves sinners!

We live in difficult times that are likely to become more difficult. The times create enormous concerns for us. We are more likely to demand that our leadership be more concerned about our anxieties than God’s priorities—especially when our anxieties clash with God’s priorities.

God’s priorities demand that leadership be concerned with two matters: (a) rescuing those outside of Christ and (b) spiritually preserving those in Christ. Elders should be spiritually mature! Elders should think! Elders should grow!

If elders do that by virtue of study and exposure to people problems, what will happen? If you take the most spiritually mature men in the congregation, and stimulate them to continue to mature, they often “out grow” the majority in a congregation. When a congregation confuses faithfulness to championing anxieties rather than faithfulness to promoting God’ priorities, major problems develop. That is why (a) elders never cease to communicate with a congregation and (b) constantly seek to explain “whys” for their decisions. Never make elders of men you do not trust! Always make men you can confidently follow elders! Just as in good parenting, trust issues are enormous!

It is not easy to let God be the model of concern for people! It is not easy to incorporate and involve the penitent lost in a congregation! If we grow, there will be those whose backgrounds are different, whose values are different, whose problems are “messy,” whose lifestyle is different, whose “spiritual learning curve” is challenging.

Leaders must realize what was successful 50 years ago may be irrelevant now. They must understand the difference between fads and substance. They must search for ways to help us effectively “love the unlovable”—because that is what God does!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 25 January 2007

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