“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30
Pastoral Confession: This season of Lent I’ve been convicted of a lack of desire to see people come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. And you may say, “You’re a pastor! Isn’t that what should drive you?” To which I would respond, “Absolutely YES!”
But in all honesty, it’s easy to get bogged down and heavy laden in “doing church” as a pastor. It’s easy to fall into a weekly routine of preparing for this meeting or that service or going on this hospital run. And then on to the next week. Restart, and repeat.
That bogged down feeling isn’t reserved for pastors, though. In all reality, any church goer—both the occasional attender, and especially committed church goer (who is there nearly every Sunday and involved in many of the weekly events at a given church)—are in danger of getting bogged down in the routine of being and doing church.
The danger in falling into this rut, is to miss the point for which God has placed us on this earth—the point for which the church exists: TO MAKE DISCIPLES. Programs and activities that we’ve done for the past 2,5, 20 years are great, and serve a purpose, but are they providing and environment where we can grow as followers of Christ, as well as a place where people who formerly did not have a relationship with Jesus now have one?
So, back to my confession…over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that in the midst of the good weekly programs and services, somehow my passion to see people come to acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives got placed on the back burner. I forgot my number one calling, not just as a pastor, but as a follower of Christ—MAKE DISCIPLES.
About a week and a half ago, I was praying in our church sanctuary (one of many pastoral luxuries—having an office right next to the sanctuary :)). We have a cross that hangs at the front of our sanctuary, and as I was on my knees in prayer, as I reflected on Christ hanging on the cross, on his wounds that bring me healing, I was overwhelmed or refilled or…(it’s hard to put our most meaningful encounters with the risen Lord into words)…re-yoked with the burden and passion to see people come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
I’ll be honest, I don’t believe I have the spiritual gift of evangelism. I love to preach, and teach, and get to know people. Evangelism—simply telling people about Jesus, or even inviting them to church where they can hear about Jesus—has always been a challenge for me. But “not having the gift of evangelism” isn’t a cop-out for me or for you! We are all called to make disciples—to be burdened with the yoke of an unquenchable thirst to know Jesus more fully and make him known to anyone and everyone he places in our lives!
So that day in the sanctuary, I confessed, and I laid down the yoke that I had put upon myself to be a perfect young pastor, and I asked Jesus for his yoke. The past week and a half of ministry has been incredible as I have a renewed passion to share the love of Christ! And God has opened doors in amazing ways. My wife, Ashley, and I have had the opportunity to engage with neighbors and new acquaintances, and invite them to church for Easter Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, and the life and hope that brings for us today.
This morning, as I reflected and journaled about my excitement, I was reading in Psalm 37, and v.5 really struck me: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” Maybe you, like me, need to recommit your way to the Lord. Maybe you’ve placed a “spiritual” burden on yourself that Jesus wants to free you from; so that you can be free to carry his yoke—so that you can be set free and filled with a desire to share the incredible news that “He is risen!”
I have high expectations, and increasing faith, that God is going to act! Maybe it will be this Sunday, Easter Sunday, as people who step into our church or yours, hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the first time it hits home and people find new life in Christ. Maybe it will be in the weeks that come as we pray for an increasing desire for spiritual fruit, and as more and more people in our churches are burdened with yoke of Christ—to know Him and make Him known.
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will act!” May it be so Lord. Amen.