I've just finished a terribly convicting book. Or maybe it's just a good book and God is trying to tell me something and he just has to use a few tough circumstances, some quiet, some good books, and a vague sense of somethings not right, and add reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller to the mix and I'm ready to learn something about loving people.
It's sort of creepy to read myself, a pastor, writing that I need to learn something about loving people. They always told us in seminary that we can either teach people truth. Or teach people truth. For most of my life, professional or otherwise, it's been about truth. People are then seen as the complicating factor. The Jesus of this mindset would have prayed to the Father, "I think I'm making progress with our mission. Would you just get some of these people out of the way, I can hardly think with all their noise, smells, sins, questions, etc. Work on that angle and I think we'll be really plowing ahead." Ouch. We'll say it with our mouths "What is a kingdom without people? Just a king." As servants of the King/kingdom, what do we do with people? How do we love them? How well do we love them?
I've tended to think that, "Well, people don't receive truth as loving. They should just get more reformed. They'll come to appreciate that later. It takes a while to get into the whole PCA thing." For pastors and people, the way to conquer the cognitive dissonance of having God be God and not need our help, and his truth be true, even if we can't fully appreciate how good that is, is in loving relationship. The problem with that is that our relationship creates more cognitive dissonance. What I'm hearing out of you is not what we profess to be true. How will I love thee then? With truth and grace. Finding out the ideal mix is like the mechanic tinkering with the carburator, how much air how much gas. Now with fuel injection, it's even harder! You need to replace the microchip. Of course, all analogies breakdown, and that's where ministry breaks down too. I can't get at your microchip. I can't transplant a new one in you. Only God can, but we encourage, admonish, question, love, forgive.
Wounded healers, heart broken and heart-breakers, learn the hard way. Christ learned obedience through what he suffered. This painful admission, and the painful way of serving the master is refining me. It is refocusing the work. Teaching truth, turns to teaching people, as we are taught to love.