There’s a book that I use devotionally as well as to supplement our life of prayer around here. Its title is Minister’s Prayer Book. It is a resource of wonderful gems compiled by John W. Doberstein. I read something in it yesterday that I wanted to share with you. It was just one sentence from a man by the name of Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper was a late nineteenth and early twentieth century journalist and Calvinist theologian. Now, don’t worry. I’m not going rogue on the LCMS, but rather, just as with our Lutheran Service Book where we take the good hymns from across history—from inside and outside of Lutheran tradition—I am taking a small piece of something good that was said. Here it is:
“An office-bearer who wants something other than to obey his King is unfit to bear his office.”
Kuyper was speaking of pastors in particular. And he’s right. If pastors venture into the Office of the Holy Ministry seeking anything other than to be faithful to Christ no matter the challenges, they are disqualified. But then as I read this, reality set in. God calls sinful human beings—men—into this office. Human beings are sinful. I speak from experience. In my sinful flesh, like you, I am more than capable of finding myself seeking something other than obedience to Jesus.
So what to do? Am I disqualified? No.
At the heart of the sentence, and in its fuller context, is the intent to warn pastors to wrestle with the flesh, being certain that Christ’s way dominates in the pastor’s efforts. How does this happen? By clinging to His Word. When I feel as though I should do things my way, or preach what I want, or act in the church in a way that seizes authority from my Lord and strays from His Word, I must be certain to remember to be led by the truest authority—the One I serve who gives and guides by and through His holy Word.
In a sense, it’s the same for you. The Word of God shapes you, not the other way around. When you don’t like what it says, contemplate the premise that its ways and wisdom will always far surpass the ways of Man. That means you. That means me. We don’t like to hear this because, sometimes, it hurts. But for the Christian, I would surmise that more often it has the potential for stirring joy. Either way, remember that it is good and it is best. Why? Well, that’s a rhetorical question. We both know the answer.