Tuesday, February 10, 2009

II Peter 1:13-14 The Heart of a Pastor Part II

Being a pastor is hard work. However, for those called to serve the church in that capacity there is nothing more rewarding than tending sheep for the Lord as an under-shepherd. As we read in the previous verse, a pastor is concerned for the spiritual growth of those under his care. Likewise, we read in these verses other reasons why a pastor is motivated to tend the flock of God.

First of all, observe with me why Peter wants to teach and exhort his fellow Christians. He says that “I consider it right”. While he does not serve under compulsion or as a hireling that doesn’t care about those under his spiritual care, Peter does recognize that he has a job to do. His obligation is to take care of these Christians, to encourage them, and to spur them on to spiritual maturity. Because he has been given this responsibility, he recognizes that he has a duty to perform. To fail in that duty would be to fail his Lord and Savior. I can only imagine that after his failure when Peter denied the Lord that he was particularly vigilant to make sure he was as faithful as he could be. He did not want to do the wrong thing and neglect his duty but rather he fulfilled his calling because he considered it “right”.

Secondly, we see Peter says not only why he serves as a pastor but what he does as a pastor. He says that he wishes to “stir you up”. Sometimes, as a Christian, it is easy to become complacent. In addition, we may be scared to enter the world and live the Christian life while being attacked for our faith. In either case, there may be times where we find ourselves tempted to be idle. Peter uses a word that is translated here “stir you up” that could also be translated “arouse from sleep”. The way it’s written in the Greek text it literally says that he intends to “continue stirring you up”. Sometimes we have to be told the same thing over and over again like children. However, a pastor who loves those whom he serves does not get tired of gently prodding the sheep in his care to spiritual maturity. In fact, Peter recognizes that is part of the job and indicates here that he is ready, willing, and able to do the job and encourage these believers to grow in their faith.

In addition, he writes in these verses how he intends to accomplish his task as a pastor. He says that he intends to stir them up “by way of reminder”. I read on a blog some time ago where a writer said that preaching the word of God was ineffective because “people have heard it all before”. In other words, his assertion was that the preaching of the truth was boring to people because they had heard all the truth of God that needed to be heard. Boy, am I glad Peter didn’t feel that way. We see here in verse 13 just as in verse 12 that Peter knows that he is going to have to remind his spiritual children about the truth. Brothers and sisters, you cannot over-learn the Bible. You and I could study for the rest of our lives and never exhaust all the wonderful nuggets of spiritual gold that God has given us in His word. We need to be reminded of the truth because as the hymn writer said:Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above

Finally, we see Peter says when he intends to do this job of serving as pastor for these Christians-- Now. There is not a moment to lose because Peter realized his time on earth was short and growing shorter. He knew that he would not be able to always remind these dear people and exhort them to live faithfully because he could only do so as long as he was “in this earthly dwelling” (his physical body). I’m young enough that the thought of my mortality doesn’t really cross my mind too much. I do remember the first time I really considered it. The first time I held my sister’s oldest child I felt the sweep of history like I never had before. I realized for the first time that there was so much that went before me but more importantly that life would go on after me. Now that I have children of my own I’m even more acutely aware of the passage of time. Peter, at the time he wrote this epistle, was even more cognizant of the fact that there were fewer days ahead than there were behind. In fact, verse 14 seems to indicate that he had been given divine revelation from the Lord that he would die soon. Because of this, he wanted to remain faithful to his call to teach these Christians while he had the opportunity.

We should be thankful for godly men that serve as our pastors and who look out for our spiritual growth not out of compulsion or out of a motivation to make a quick buck but out of love for our Lord and for us. We can follow their example and Peter’s example even if we’re not pastors by being faithful to serve the body with our spiritual gifts as long as we are able.

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