During nearly 10 hours of floor sanding, performed with the assistance of the much appreciated father-in-law, my mind tended to wander. Apart from repeatedly cursing the person who put multiple coats of lead paint on my floor, and then repenting of said cursing, and then praying that I could get all the boards evenly sanded and then praying I didn't sand through the floor, I thought about a few different things.
First, I reviewed the Law & Order episode I blogged on last week and realized that if I were a gay person, I would actually be quite mad about that show. The gay "spouse" refused to testify because Jack had gotten the gay marriages overturned and accused Jack of "undermining everything that I am" or something similar. But what did that marriage say about "all that he is"? If the marriages were valid, then he was an adulterer and until the defense lawyer made claims to spousal privilege, he hadn't really thought twice about testifying against his spouse once it became clear the cops might accuse him of being an accessory. Apparently "everything that he is" is a selfish adulterer looking out for number one while seeking the right to marry just because he likes the idea of it and not because he is actually committed to treating it with honor and respect. What does that say about gays?
Second, I thought about the ministry I'm in. We had a ministry leaders lunch - which we have usually about once a month - for the volunteers who head our various ministries; music, drama, greeter/ushers, hospital visitation, etc. Our senior pastor gave a short speech about his vision for our church and what makes us different from other churches in the area. Long story short, he said a few people who had been at an "intro to *** community church" class had said they came from other churches because of a lack of preaching from the word, in-depth worship and that kind of thing - stuff mature Christians are concerned with. The senior pastor told them, basically, if you're looking to "receive" here go someplace else - our ministry is meant for the unreached. If you're looking to "give" here, to help others on their way to Christ, then by all means stay. The wife and I talked about this later that night and came to the conclusion that this kind of thing can only happen in a once-saved-always-saved culture. Getting people into heaven through a profession of faith in Christ is the main task. After that, they're locked in and any depth of spiritual growth or maturity is just icing on the cake. This runs pretty contrary to my view of things - spiritual growth and maturity must necessarily follow any conversion. Christ did not say "go therefore, and make converts of all the nations," He said to make disciples. Are we succeeding in the great commission if all we do is win people to Christ without helping them towards discipleship?
Third, how am I doing in regards to the above? I sometimes have a crisis of confidence in my ministry - whether or not I'm doing a good job, whether or not I'm making a difference with these kids, whether or not I'm influencing their eternal residence. I spend a lot of time on living the Christian life, but I don't present the Gospel a lot because I assume most of these kids are already Christian. Some of them invite friends, but we're not really growing too much. I see good signs in a lot of the kids, but I still struggle with measuring success - and what even constitutes success? I would love a nice, easy definition, but I suspect that there isn't one.