Over the past couple of weeks the Lord revealed something in my heart. He revealed to me that I was loving the dream more than the reality. We live in a day when we are able to see the "successes" of other pastors and/or churches. We live in a day (nothing new here) when we seek to justify our actions and thoughts in a godly fashion. Here's what I mean. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see as many people in my community as I possibly can coming to faith in Christ. I live in a county that is said to be over 90% unchurched. There is indeed a great opportunity for the light to shine in darkness. I have called it "vision" when I say I can see so much potential before us. I can see so many wonderful opportunities to see people reached for Christ, growing in grace, planting churches, sending missionaries, reaching the unreached peoples of the world. And all of this is great and sounds good.
However, I didn't realize how I was drifting into a dream and away from reality. I was frustrated that our church wasn't keeping more people. I was frustrated that we weren't seeing more fruit. It was a slow progression in my own heart and easily justifiable because of the good nature of wanting to see these things take place.
God has called me to pastor this flock. God has called me to pastor Cypress Lake Baptist Church. I had somehow drifted away from that. I wanted to see "other" people here. I was taking for granted the fact that God has allowed me to pastor "this" particular people. In all my "dreaming" of more people (even for good reasons like making more disciples) I missed the most important aspect of my calling, which is to shepherd the flock among me. In all my dreaming I began loving the dream more than the reality.
This reminded me of a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community, "He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial."
Ouch! That was me. The Lord, in His grace, pointed this out to me. A couple Wednesday evenings ago I confessed this to my congregation. Why? Because I want them to see that this is Christ's church and I had started to place myself as the head of the church. I had bought into this lie that I could make us grow and move forward. I had bought into the lie that I could create community if the church would follow.
I was wrong. Dead wrong. I cannot make us grow. I cannot make the church better.
Two Scriptures that make this point abundantly clear:
1. Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Emphasis added)
2. First Corinthians 3:5-9, "What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building." (Emphasis added)
My calling, indeed a pastor's calling, is to faithfully minister the Word of God. God is the One who does the work in and through His faithful ministers. God is the One who gets the glory. Instead of "dreaming" of how things could be, I am learning to love the reality of being with God's people more than the dream of a people yet to be known.