Jeremiah 31:31-34 * Psalm 119:9-16 * Hebrews 5:5-10 * John 12:20-33
Pastor Edward C. Harshbarger
I. ACCORDING TO JEREMIAH, GOD HAS A PLAN TO REPLACE MINSTERS.
A. THAT WOULD CERTAINLY SAVE PARISHES A LOT OF MONEY.
B. IF THAT IS GOD'S PLAN THEN MY ROLE AS A MEMBER OF THE CLERGY SHOULD BE TO HELP GOD MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
C. THE WORDS OF JEREMIAH THAT LED ME TO THIS CONCLUSION ARE: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel. I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and his brother, saying, 'know the Lord,'
for they shall all know me." (Jer. 31:31-34)
D. I DRAW THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS FROM THIS TEXT:
1. God wants everyone to know him.
2. That would eliminate the need for preachers and teachers in the church.
3. A few volunteers to lead worship might be all that any congregation would need.
II. MY IDEAS MAY SEEM A BIT RADICAL BUT IF EVERYONE ON EARTH IS IN A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WHAT MORE CAN I OFFER.
A. ST. PAUL UNDERSTOOD THAT GOD'S GOAL IS TO BE IN A RECONCILED RELATIONSHIP WITH EVERY PERSON ON EARTH:
"In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself." (II: Cor. 5:19)
B. IF PASTORS TOOK SERIOUSLY THE WORDS OF JEREMIAH AND ST. PAUL, IT WOULD DRASTICALLY AFFECT THE WAY WE DO MINISTRY.
1. We would be more concerned about a person’s relationship with God and less concerned about their relationship with us.
2. We would realize that helping people memorize facts about God is not as important as deepening their relationship with God.
3. We certainly remember our relationships with Pastors and teachers long after we have forgotten what they taught us.
4. This is why Jesus reduced all Biblical laws to two sentences:
a. Love God.
b. Love your neighbor.
III. THIS IS WHY I BELIEVE THAT ALL CHURCH EDUCATORS SHOULD TRY INFECTING PEOPLE INSTEAD OF INSTRUCTING THEM.
A. ALL OF THE INSTRUCTION WE RECEIVE BEGINS TO FADE AS SOON AS WE EXIT A CLASSROOM OR NAVE.
1. At best we remember 10% of what we hear.
2. It would be well for Pastors and teachers to remember that.
B. ON THE OTHER HAND AN INFECTION, UNLESS CHECKED BY AN ANTIDOTE, KEEPS GROWING UNTIL IT INFECTS THE WHOLE BODY.
C. AN INFECTION IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DEVELOP A DEEP PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
D. HERE IS A STORY TOLD BY A LUTHERAN MINISTER WHO SET ASIDE ALL CHURCH PROTOCOL TO BAPTIZE THE NEW BORN SON OF AN UN-WED MOTHER WHO LIVED FIFTY MILES AWAY:
"I was sitting in my office one morning when the secretary said someone wanted to see me. A young lady came into my office holding a new born wrapped in a blue blanket. She explained
she had given birth in the local hospital and was on her way home but wanted me to baptize her baby. After some discussion, and against my better judgment, I agreed to baptize her baby. Five years passed before the woman was again in my office. This time she asked permission to take her son to the font where he had been baptized. I went to the nave with her and sat down in a pew while she took her son by the hand and proceeded to the font. I sat there with tears in my eyes as that young Mother
gave the most beautiful sermon on Baptism I had ever heard."
1. That Mother had probably forgotten much that the Pastor had said to her in his office on the day they first met.
2. However, in his gracious act of kindness, he had infected her with something that was still consuming her soul five years later.
3. Jeremiah's prophecy was fulfilled - God's law, and his love, had been written on the hearts of both Mother and son.
IV. I DO NOT EXPECT THE ELIMINATION OF THE OFFICE OF THE CLERGY.
A. ONE OF THE REASONS IS THAT CONGREGATIONS THINK THAT THEY CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT A PASTOR.
B. PARISHES LIKE PASTORS WHO WILL:
1. Take care of parish problems and problem people.
2. Keep the pews filled and the offerings coming in.
3. Recruit new members to insure the future financial stability of the parish.
4. In general, congregations want their Pastors to be their paid lovers.
C. OF COURSE THERE ARE PASTORS WHO BELIEVE GOD WANTS THEM TO BE THE CENTER OF ATTENTION.
D. I HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT GOD PREFERS MINISTERS WHO WILL DO JUST WHAT THE PASTOR DID IN THE STORY NOTED ABOVE, i.e., INTRODUCE PEOPLE TO GOD AND THEN GET OUT OF THE WAY.
1. Pastors need to remember that THE LORD IS THE SHEPHERD.
2. Parishioners need a closer relationship with God than with their Pastors.
E. JEREMIAH HAD A REALLY GREAT IDEA BUT VERY FEW PASTORS OR PARISHIONERS WANT TO TAKE THE PROPOSAL SERIOUSLY.
1. As long as God's law is written only on the hearts of our Pastors then they are singularly accountable for it.
2. When we allow God to write it on our hearts then we become accountable.
3. There are Pastors who do not want to share that accountability.
4. There are a lot of parishioners who do not want to assume that accountability.
5. St. Matthew will be better off when all of its parishioners know the Lord as Jeremiah envisioned.
Posted on Thu, April 19, 2018
by Lori Tremmel