A fair amount of attention is paid these days to ‘balance’. Many times that attention is fully justified. I find it very important to keep certain truths in tension not only in my own individual life, but in my pastoral life as well. How should I think about the church at any given moment? Should I be excited, encouraged, over moon? Or should I be pessimistic and be tempted to jump off the bridge? There are days when I receive a word from someone that they feel unwanted and unloved by the church and literally an hour later get an email or a call from someone who wants to let me know that they have never felt so loved and so supported by any church body anywhere. Who do I believe? What emotion will win the day?
I remember one Lord’s Day afternoon walking to my study with a teenager who was under deep conviction of sin and wanting to embrace Christ (what a joy!) and while I am walking with them to my study having a resignation letter handed to me by a member. What is the Lord saying in such times? Are all my joys to be tempered with sorrow or are all my sorrows leavened with joy?
At least once a year the elders of the church get together during a retreat and prayerfully go through every member of the church. Much of this is encouraging, but there are times when we realize how much better we need to do in ministering to this one or that one. We realize we have members who are mature and those who are not, those who are pursuing Christ with all their might and those who are coasting. What are we to make of such things? Frankly, that this is church life in the present age. Triumphs, joys, victories, failures, sins and disappointments all run together. It means that when I receive news that would thrill my heart, I don’t jump over the moon and when I hear things that weigh me down, I don’t jump off the bridge. There is a bit of the curse in everything and there is something of the triumphal scepter of Christ there too.