We Need to be Careful (And Kind)

I’m not into the world of secular music so it’s not surprising that I know little to nothing about current musicians and their music. However, my interest level did go up a few notches when articles began to appear recently in both the religious and secular media concerning Kanye West – of whom I admittedly know very little.

What I have read (you can read here and here) is that he has had some kind of religious awakening – call it what you will. His latest album released this past week, Jesus is King, is said to be overtly religious. Apparently, Kanye has dabbled in religion for many years, but in the past year has turned somewhat more serious, even hosting weekly religious gatherings for his staff and friends called Sunday Services.

There are those who are thrilled by his new-found commitment to Christ and those who see it as a publicity stunt. I have no idea and I’m content to leave any judgment up to God.

Here’s where I think we need to be careful. It’s not spiritually wise to make a spiritual novice the face or hope of Christianity. Some people are excited, anticipating the great spiritual influence that a public figure like Kanye can have on people, especially on young people. And he may – we’ll have to wait and see.

But let’s not put more responsibility on his shoulders than we should. The Apostle Paul addressed this issue in writing to Timothy regarding spiritual leadership: not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6-7).

Granted this is a qualification for Elders in the church and no one that I know of has suggested that Kanye should be or even wants to be an Elder. But it is still sound advice and should apply to everyone in spiritual leadership.

While I can’t say with any degree of certainty, from what I have read, it does not appear that Kanye falls into the category of the spiritually mature. He needs more time to grow and to demonstrate that good testimony not only to those in the church but especially to those who are outside.

In the meantime, those of us who are naturally suspicious and may lean toward the is this simply a publicity stunt ? (and even some non-Christians have suggested as much) need to be kind in our assessment and judicial (pharisaical?) proclamations.

Like most things in life, it will become clearer with more time and a little grace.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

Grace for the Race

I read this statement recently: Grace for the Race.

Forrest Gump was right, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get until you take one and bite into it. But the imagery differs from reality. With a box of chocolates you always get something sweet. With life you sometimes get something bitter. Mixed in with the sweet chocolates are bitter pills of anxiety, illness, suffering, and disappointment.

But for the Christian there is Grace for the Race. That’s exactly what we need and it’s freely given.

In our staff prayer time at SVBC we pray for the people in our church – those who aren’t able to attend as often as they use to because of age or health; those who are going through difficult health issues; those who are struggling spiritually; those who are facing trials that we don’t know about because they have not shared them; those who are involved in ministries; and of course everyone else.

What all of these people need is Grace for the Race.

Two passages came to mind as I read that statement. The first was from the writings of the Apostle John who wrote: And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace (John 1:16). Another way of translating that last phrase is grace on top of grace.

The idea is that God’s grace cannot be exhausted.

F. F. Bruce, in his commentary compares God’s grace to the waves of the ocean, one wave on top of another. One wave replacing another. He writes There is no limit to the supply of grace which God has placed at His people’s disposal in Christ.

Which means that you will always have Grace for the Race. It will always be there for you.

The other passage was from the pen of the Apostle Paul, when he wrote: My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In the context Paul asking God to take away what he called his thorn in the flesh. But God didn’t remove it as Paul asked (even the Apostle Paul didn’t have all of his prayers answered the way he wanted them to be answered.).

When you think of all of the trials that Paul went through in his Christian experience – beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, stonings etc. (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27), this was the only one he asked God to remove. His thorn in the flesh was especially difficult.

Why would God refuse to remove it?

Because He had something even better for Paul. It’s called Grace.

What Paul needed more than relief from suffering was Grace for the Race.

That’s what we need most days – but we don’t know it. Thankfully God does.

He knows that His grace is enough for our trials.

Take those two thoughts with you today – God’s grace is always available, and God’s grace is enough. Let them sustain you, support you, nourish you. Don’t look for grace for tomorrow. Ask God for enough grace to get you through today with all of its trials, hardships, and problems of.

Ask Him for Grace for the Race.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve