Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Closet Pelagians!

Reading time: two minutes. If productivity is down at your lumber yard, your bakery or your used car dealership, the first thing you might consider is that you may need to work harder and get others to work harder also. That’s not the case in the kingdom of God.  Now there’s no excuse for being a lazy church worker.  God expects our diligence and the best use of our heart, soul, mind and strength, but the advance of the gospel does not begin there. Eugene Peterson once suggested that in our pulpits we are Augustinians, focused on the sovereignty and grace of God in all things.  In our committee rooms, however, we far too often revert to our natural tendency to fix things by our own efforts.  That’s Pelagianism.  Pelagius taught that our life with God begins with our own efforts to bridge the gap between our imperfection and God’s glory.  In his view, grace meets us by closing the gap the rest of the way. Jesus taught that the kingdom advances very slowly and against great opposition.  That gets frustrating for church workers and it can too easily unleash the Pelagian inside all of us.  We plan and struggle and work harder and longer and the tasks of ministry begin to squeeze out the source of ministry, the power of God who works while we sleep, who works when we pray, who was at work long before we arrived on the scene and will continue when we are at rest. Peterson said, “Our closet Pelagianism will not get us excommunicated or burned at the stake, but it cripples our pastoral work.  And it is catastrophic to the church’s wholeness and health.” One day when we look back over all of the years of our efforts, I wonder if we’ll see the difference between those times we began with our own effort, and those times when we began with sabbath, worship and prayer.  I have a suspicion that our over-functioning is more of an obstacle to ministry productivity than it is an enhancement. It’s a mystery of the kingdom that when we work, we work, but when we pray, God works.  It’s a hard balance to learn. So I pray that God will bless all your efforts, and also that all of your efforts will be preceded by a display of your weakness, dependence and humility as you lean on the Lord before you lean on the plow. Thanks for reading. Our ministry is made possible by the generous donations of people just like you. Click here to discover how simple it is to make your gift of any size to Grace Place Wellness. Do you know someone who might be interested in becoming a major benefactor to sponsor a retreat in your area? Our President/CEO Randy Fauser would love to hear from you today!