Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recommend-a-blog (5)

I don’t think we’ve posted much on the subject of biblical commendation. If we have, I didn’t tag it appropriately and can’t find it now. [IC, that’s a really unsubtle cue …]

Happily, even if we fail to deliver, there remains a blogosphere. James Gibbons makes three timely and relevant observations about commendation in a post that you should read if you’ve ever thought about serving the Lord outside your own local church.

Currently, the practice of commendation is poorly understood among evangelicals and completely irrelevant in high churches.

The word itself is only quasi-scriptural, at least in the way it is often used by modern believers to describe a much more formal arrangement than the one we observe in the book of Acts between churches and the missionaries they send. (There is certainly a reference in 1 Corinthians to “letters of commendation” that implies that a practice had evolved among some churches of sending and receiving letters to vouch for travelling believers, but these seem to be viewed rather negatively by Paul with respect to his own situation; he suggests such formalities ought to be unnecessary; certainly in his case, where he had a well-established relationship with the Corinthians. Apart from this little aside of Paul’s, we have no instructions on the subject.)

But though the word may be only a convenience, it is aptly used to describe the situation we find in Acts 13, where a group of prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch were directed by the Holy Spirit to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a particular work, in this case what is often referred to as Paul’s first missionary journey. These leaders identified with the two so designated by laying hands on them and simply “sent them off”.

The “commended” part comes from Acts 14. Paul and Barnabas make a pit stop in Antioch, where Luke tells us “they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled”.

No salary, no seminary, no documented commitment. Working without a net. Scary stuff, if we leave God out of the equation.

The idea of commending workers and sending them out has always been of limited interest to many churches and denominations because of the perceived lack of security in relying on the unquantifiable. Gifts from God’s people and the occasional part-time job are not how most seminary-trained young men and women are prepared to live, though few would put it that bluntly. A salary or an arrangement with a mission board is often preferred.

But of course if the Holy Spirit sets you apart for a work, you’re not exactly out there twisting in the wind, however it might appear to the more earthly minded among us. 

Coming from a denominational background himself, Mr. Gibbons is well equipped to survey the subject of commendation and draw both scriptural and practical conclusions.

James Gibbons posts at assemblyHUB, an evangelical ministry. As with all such collaborative efforts, the site is a mixed bag depending on the day and writer. It should go without saying (but doesn’t, so I’ll say it) that as with every site I mention here, enthusiasm about a particular post or writer is not a blanket endorsement of everything they believe or an endorsement of the views of everyone with whom they associate. It is also my personal opinion and may or may not reflect that of others who post at ComingUntrue.

1 comment :

  1. Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent
    by  Katy Faust
    within Marriage
    February 2nd, 2015

    Dear Justice Kennedy,
    June is nigh, and with it will come your ruling on the most contentious political issue of our time: marriage.
    I write because I am one of many children with gay parents who believe we should protect marriage. I believe you were right when, during the Proposition 8 deliberations, you said “the voice of those children [of same-sex parents] is important.” I’d like to explain why I think redefining marriage would actually serve to strip these children of their most fundamental rights.
    It’s very difficult to speak about this subject, because I love my mom. Most of us children with gay parents do. We also love their partner(s). You don’t hear much from us because, as far as the media are concerned, it’s impossible that we could both love our gay parent(s) and oppose gay marriage. Many are of the opinion I should not exist. But I do, and I’m not the only one.
    This debate, at its core, is about one thing.
    It’s about children.
    The definition of marriage should have nothing to do with lessening emotional suffering within the homosexual community. If the Supreme Court were able to make rulings to affect feelings, racism would have ended fifty years ago. Nor is this issue primarily about the florist, the baker, or the candlestick-maker, though the very real impact on those private citizens is well-publicized. The Supreme Court has no business involving itself in romance or interpersonal relationships. I hope very much that your ruling in June will be devoid of any such consideration.
    Government Should Promote the Well-being of Children
    Children are the reason government has any stake in this discussion at all. Congress was spot on in 1996 when it passed the Defense of Marriage Act, stating:
    At bottom, civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing. Simply put, government has an interest in marriage because it has an interest in children. ……skipped……

    The Voices of the Children.
    When you emphasized how important the voices of children with gay parents are, you probably anticipated a different response. You might have expected that the children of same-sex unions would have nothing but glowing things to say about how their family is “just like everyone else’s.” Perhaps you expected them to tell you that the only scar on their otherwise idyllic life is that their two moms or two dads could not be legally married. If the children of these unions were all happy and well-adjusted, it would make it easier for you to deliver the feel-good ruling that would be so popular. …… skipped ……

    Children Have the Right to Be Loved by Their Mother and Father
    Like most Americans, I am for adults having the freedom to live as they please. I unequivocally oppose criminalizing gay relationships. But defining marriage correctly criminalizes nothing. And the government’s interest in marriage is about the children that only male-female relationships can produce. Redefining marriage redefines parenthood. It moves us well beyond our “live and let live” philosophy into the land where our society promotes a family structure where children will always suffer loss. It will be our policy, stamped and sealed by the most powerful of governmental institutions, that these children will have their right to be known and loved by their mother and/or father stripped from them in every instance. In same-sex-headed households, the desires of the adults trump the rights of the child.
    Have we really arrived at a time when we are considering institutionalizing the stripping of a child’s natural right to a mother and a father in order to validate the emotions of adults?

    Justice Kennedy, I have long admired your consistency when ruling on the well-being of children, and I implore you to stay the course. ……