The Bible is a story of cosmic conflict between the Creator God Almighty and one of his creatures. He created, not only the physical universe with all we see, but also what the Jews call “the third heaven.” This third heaven is the spiritual realm, the world we do not see. In this world are the angels and other spiritual beings, all created by God.
Among the spiritual beings created by God are some who rebelled against him. Ezekiel seems to describe one of those who rebelled.
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you (Ezekiel 28:13-15, NIV, emphasis added).
This creature visited the Garden of Eden in the form of a serpent and recruited Adam and Eve into his rebellion against their Creator and partner in fellowship. Since that fateful day, all humans, save one, have joined that rebellion.
This rebellion is essentially a desire to have our own way, to determine for ourselves what is right for us and to set about getting it by any means available. This means that we want to make a name for ourselves, to have influence and power over other people, and to be among those whom Jesus said ‘lord it over’ others (Mark 10:42; et al).
Jesus gives power to overcome the power of this evil, fallen creature. His power is that of suffering love that serves those whom Jesus loves. N.T. Wright spoke of this as ‘the power of love, not the love of power.’
It is this conflict that Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel examine in The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb. They look at the conflict as it affects church leaders, pointedly stated in the sub-title: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church That Has Abandoned it.
They accuse the church, beginning with themselves. Each of them throughout the book acknowledges that making a ‘name’ for themselves was a priority for themselves and were making progress toward that end, as the back cover of the book biographies of the two indicates.
Yet, each of them came to know that something was missing. Kyle wrote, “At every turn, my grandiosity was exposed. I wanted to control reality, to create a self that would thrive in the world, while Jesus said, ‘Take up your cross and follow me’” (Preface, p. xvii).
Jamin told of a fellow pastor who had gotten caught up in infidelity. His friend explained that the root of his fall lay in his ‘pride, status, and grandiosity.’ Strobel added:
I knew the temptations of status and recognition. I was well acquainted with the hunger for power he [his friend] spoke of and the temptation to craft a false self worthy of praise. I could not distance myself from such a horrible sinner because I could see the ingredients of such behavior in my own heart. (Chap. 1, p. 4).
Over and over similar confessions appear in these pages.
The two friends determined to see what was wrong, not only in themselves but in much of evangelicalism. Over the next few years, they interviewed six men and one woman. All have deeply held, well practiced spiritual values. All have been faithful mentors and teachers for decades with broad life experience and wisdom. The book is the story of those interviews, how they impacted the authors, and lessons they learned in this quest.
In a nutshell, the problems they observed focus on failures to be Jesus-like servants. Instead, they saw too many Christian leaders (including themselves) using and manipulating people instead of loving them.
One memorable quote from a “successful pastor” of a growing church was “I AM PRETTY SURE A SMART, PRODUCTIVE ATHEIST COULD do my job well” (p. 125). The sentence is at it appears in the book at the beginning of chapter seven, “The Power of the Lamb”. The point of the quote was that the pastor had realized his success was built on his own talents and efforts, not God’s power and Spirit.
I recommend this book to young people considering a life of ministry. The advice of proven people of faithful service and willingness to serve in humble ways will inspire and warn those just entering ministry.
I recommend it to those, like myself, who have spent decades in ministry. These two men will strike a chord in the hearts of those who have witnessed (and/or practiced?) the problems addressed – and will pierce hearts and provide a tool to use in mentoring younger ministers.
I recommend this book to members of church boards, elders, deacons, and all concerned about knowing how faithful service in the way of the Lamb looks in the twenty-first century. It is not glamor and excitement. Instead, it looks like a cross with an empty tomb beside it and a joyous cry, “He is risen!”
The book can be purchased at Amazon.com for $11.55.
Source: Committed to Truth
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