So you're saying to yourself, "cent -- don't be like this. Pastors have it hard enough, and the people who go after them are worse than wicked."
Oh wait -- no: most of you are saying something like, "I sure wish my pastor was reading this," or, "I sure hope my ex-pastor is reading this -- maybe it'll drive some sense into his fool head."
Which isn't very nice -- and it probably isn't very wise, either. See: in the whole NT where we draw our practical theology of church (our presbyterian brothers and sisters draw a lot of their presuppositions about the church from the OT -- but don't let me get distracted here), we don't see Paul and Peter telling a lot of people to flee the church because of lousy pastors, do we?
What we see instead is Paul saying stuff like this:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.or this:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.or most robustly like this:
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;There's a lot to go after there, but I'm only going after the underlined parts to start.
To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Paul calls these guys, in various ways, "my true child in the faith".
As I read that, I find myself thinking, "dude -- how would it feel to have someone introduce you as, 'my true child in the faith'? How would it feel if Paul introduced you as 'my true child in the faith'?"
On the one hand, it would have to be ridiculously rewarding -- and at the same time, immensely humbling, like a rolling pin on my stupid ambitions and my scale of what's important. If Paul knew me, and when Paul spoke of me he said, "hey -- that Frank? he's my true child in the faith," I'd tell him to stop calling me that -- because it would be too much to bear. I personally am not worthy to be the heir to the legacy that Paul left for the church, but to receive it and honor it would be a huge reward in and of itself.
I was once introduced to a room full of people as "a good and faithful man," and I nearly couldn't go on -- because in that context (which was a church context), those words meant something more than merely a compliment. It means that somehow, my faith shows up. Other people see it. And that's nothing compared to being called by Paul, the apostle, "my true child in the faith."
So as I begin pointing out what Paul said to these two men -- his true children in the faith -- consider that in Paul's view, it is men like these who are worthy of his legacy. What Paul charges them with is the charge he makes to the true sons in faith to pass on.
Begin reading this stuff by asking yourself, "Would Paul call me his 'true child'? Would anybody say that about me?" That's what you should be aspiring to, and if you're not ... well, we're not to those parts of these letters yet. But before we get there, I think this is enough to start with: a pastor is someone who Paul would call a "true child in the faith".
BTW, as we do this, you should start making your list for this series. Split a sheet of paper in half, and on the right side list all the things you think -- you, walking around, not poking through these letters -- a pastor should be. Then on the left you can write down the things Paul says a pastor should be. We can compare lists at the end.