Points to Ponder: Test the message before you reject the messenger
Points to Ponder
Test the message before you reject the messenger
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
I was raised in a church in South Baltimore. The new Pastor was young and smart, but he lacked people skills. At a time of great need in our family, he turned from my parents and avoided involvement. My once very active parents found both the church and the Pastor cold toward them. I got through confirmation classes, but despite my intention and my vows to be a church member, I joined my parents in dropping out altogether. It was a difficult time.
The Pastor was the confirmation class teacher. I held a grudge against him. I was only about 15 years old and I thought this man was just no good. (I have since forgiven him and realized that his mistakes were more out of youthful experience rather than diabolical intent.) However, as we were finishing our confirmation lessons and were preparing for the "big day", the Pastor met with each class member to discuss whether they would be confirmed and become members of the church. He took five minutes or so with each of my friends; but with me as I recall, he took (it seemed) about two hours. He thought that I might have a calling--to go into ordained ministry. That was at age 15. He was the first person who ever told me that. It would be 13 to 14 years later that others would share that same impression with me.
I finally accepted that call and began studies at age 31. That was 16 years later. Why didn't I even consider it earlier? Because I did not like the man who told me. In rejecting the vessel, I automatically rejected the message the Lord had for me. I often wonder how different my life would have been had I listened rather than judged. Maybe I would not have made decisions I now regret. Maybe...well, who knows?
The point is this: there are no perfect persons. Like it or not, God uses imperfect persons to carry His message to other imperfect persons. Often we are so quick to reject a person because of denomination or differing theology on a minor point, and wind up missing a word from God. Sometimes, we just do not like them.
It is even harder to hear the message when the messenger is using methods or strategies that resemble the ways of the world more than to ways of the Lord. We can find ourselves thinking that God's will can not possibly be in this action or that decision. I have learned that God can use bureaucrats, full of their own self-importance, and accomplish His will in spite of them (sometimes). It is just hard to see God's hand in a matter that has been messed up and messed over by human wisdom. A lot of the time He is not in it, but sometimes He is. Be careful and discerning. Pray a lot, and listen more than speak.
"Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." (I Thessalonians 5:19-21)
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.