Saturday, November 27, 2010

The unknown "uncommon" Christian . . . my Boss, the once-unknown Jewish carpenter from Nazareth . . . Ordinary Pastors Project

Are you an obscure and unknown "nobody" living to honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ?

Does hardly anyone know your name as you say along with James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829) and from the depth of your very being/soul, "None but Christ; all for Christ" (the catch phrase of Uncommon Christian Ministries)?

Like J. B. Taylor sought to be and encouraged those converted to Christ under his ministry to be, so are you striving to be an "uncommon Christian"--defined by Taylor as an "eminently holy, self-denying, cross-bearing, Bible, everyday" Christian? Yet in your striving, are you off, under or not even on the radar that is your local neighborhood or that is popular American Evangelicalism?

Is your Christian-themed blog not part of the Top 100 Church Blogs? Are your books ranked 3,014,783 and 3,291,944 with Bestsellers Rank (such are the rankings of my An Uncommon Christian and Of Intense Brightness)?

If so, may the Lord bless you as you are among the majority of Christians throughout the ages and have the privilege of being able to identify more intimately with the once-obscure and unknown first-century Jewish carpenter from Nazareth (Matthew 13:55). The Lord Jesus' public ministry lasted about three years while his work as a carpenter lasted for about the first 30 years of his life.

Whether fame and notoriety come our way or not, may this not be our life's ambition. Such ambition is sin and the Lord will not bless it. The Lord blesses obedience. He blesses when His people make Him their true Boss; their Boss above all bosses. If such obedience leads to your name being in bright lights, on most-visited blog lists and bestseller lists, and being invited to speak at conferences, so be it. May His name be praised. If not, so be it. May His name be praised.

Please join me in living intentionally and intensely for the Lord no matter what the consequences and however large or small the sphere of influence He gives us. "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’” (Luke 17:10).

Joe Carter's recent blog entry "Note to Young Evangelicals: You Can't All Be Elite" provides a wise observation about today's younger generation. On the First Things blog, Carter writes (November 12, 2010):
Matt Anderson makes a very astute observation about the younger generation of evangelicals:
Here’s my hypothesis as to why young evangelicals tend to be drawn toward Randian libertarianism or Obama-style pragmatic liberalism: we think of ourselves as elites, even though most of us aren’t. This is particularly true of white, college-educated younger evangelicals who went off to Wheaton and Biola, and who are the only young evangelicals the media ever seems to talk about.
Our dissatisfaction with the mainstream evangelical populism we grew up in makes us particularly susceptible to either top-down statism or ubermensch libertarianism. Obama or Ron Paul, Jim Wallis or Ayn Rand. Both appeal to our elite aspirations, as in the former we can politically engineer society to bring about the Kingdom and in the latter we get to be captains of industry.
Exactly. And, like many others of their generation, they think they should be able to take an advance now on their future potential. Since it’s inevitable (so they believe) that they’ll be successful writers/pundits/leaders, etc., we old Gen X and Baby Boomer geezers should just step aside and let them run the show. They are the ones they’ve been waiting for.

The fact that they aren’t qualified for such roles doesn’t seem to daunt them in the least. They have energy and ambition and opinions of their own. What else could they possibly need?

The problem is not just that such an attitude is off-putting (though it definitely is obnoxious) but rather that it prevents young talented evangelicals from adequately preparing to live up to their elite aspirations. They need to spend many years (ideally between ten to fifteen) in preparation and service to others before they can fully grasp how the world works, much less how they can fix it.

Of course, being told they need to gain wisdom and experience before they can be truly effective is the last thing any young person wants to hear. But young evangelicals should humbly consider the example of our Lord: If the savior of the world saw fit to toil in working-class obscurity for thirty years before embarking on his cosmos-changing mission, it probably won’t hurt you to spend a bit more time forming your intellect and character before you’re ready to make your mark on the culture.

Relatedly, U.S.-based The Gospel Coalition has recently begun (September 2010) the Ordinary Pastors Project.

The project is inspired by D.A. Carson's book about his father entitled Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson (Crossway, 2008).

Click here (Matt B. Redmond) and here (Justin Taylor) for more information and how you can give an online testimony about your beloved "ordinary pastor."

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