I’m still slowly working my way through the book on personal ministry ‘Instruments in the Redeemers Hands’ by Paul David Tripp and I’m finding it thought provoking and I’m already finding a positive impact on my personal ministry. Here is another quote:
‘The church is not a theological classroom. It is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness and sanctification centre where flawed people place their trust in Christ, gather to know and love him better, and learn to love others as he has designed. The church is messy and inefficient, but it is God’s wonderful mess-the place where he radically transforms hearts and lives.’
Ok, so I’m not so keen on his dismissal of the theological classroom. Good theology is life changing, and in fact that is a key point he makes early in the book. Our problems and our sin will not be seriously addressed by proof-texts, only by a deep understanding of the key themes of the Bible.
But having just studied James 5 tonight in Bible Study, I think his description of church, or should that be Christian fellowship is really helpful. James, in the midst of a situation of much conflict, encourages confession to one another, prayer for one another and helping to restore one another from sin.
I’m increasingly convinced that bringing a bunch of flawed people together is inevitably going to be messy. The joy of Christian fellowship is that we have a common saviour to grasp on to and God’s spirit to help us muddle through painful and difficult situations.
My challenges are firstly not to ignore conflict and problems in the vain hope they’ll go away, and secondly not to see mess simply as a distraction from real ministry, but a real opportunity for love and growth in Godliness.