As a pastor of a local congregation I care deeply about the spiritual condition of the people that God has led into my care. One of the ways in which I demonstrate care is by encouraging everyone to become a part of the church more than through just the Sunday morning worship times. More so than anyone, I go through pain-staking lengths (yes, pain-staking!) to encourage people with addictive habits to join the small groups at church. It is quiet amazing how quickly people will agree to this and for a short while (three weeks being the most) attend the small groups. After gaining confidence in themselves their presence begins to wane. After observing this I would usually call the individual or couple and say, “I haven’t seen you in a small group this week, what’s going on?” This is the response i receive and it drives me nuts! “Sorry pastor, we were soooooo busy that we couldn’t make small groups this week, but we’ll be there next week (chuckle, chuckle…)” And lo and behold next week rolls around and they are not there again. The phone call is repeated. The response is the same. My frustration increases and I can see where all this is going to lead.
Two months down the road I receive a call, “Pastor, we need you to come and visit us urgently. My husband is drinking. I want a divorce….” and so on and so on. I’ve experienced so many scenes like this and every time I experience it, it is heart breaking. Suddenly people are in such a hurry to “fix” the problem when they deliberately got themselves into this mess. Why can’t people prevent all this by simply following the preventative measures? Why can’t they simply do the God-things? I pray and hope that more Christians will take what Paul wrote to the Philippians about, he said, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Christian, please work out our salvation with fear and trembling! God will help but you must co-operate with him. It’s not the fault of the church that you are in a mess. It’s not the fault of your pastor that you are in this mess and it’s certainly not God’s fault that you are where you are! You are there because you put yourself there. You can take yourself out by cooperating with God. Start working out your salvation. Do it from today and never stop from doing it!