Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

James 1:16

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers."

My study of the greek presents a really interesting alternative in terms of how to translate this one brief sentence:

"Don't ERR, dearly loved friends"

This carries with it more of the idea of making a mistake. Don't make a mistake! And the "dearly loved" part is that inconvenient word "agape" again. There is a difficult juxtaposition happening here. James warns us not to make a mistake, which has to do with behavior and/or doctrine. But the word for love here is that kind of love which has nothing to do with the actions of the beloved. God loves us not because of any deeds we've done, but because of "his own mercy" (Titus 3:5)

And so I am stuck with this horrible problem: I am called to love the brothers (the word includes female "bretheren") without regard to their actions, and yet James is warning them ABOUT their actions. It is a paradox! And both sides of the paradox MUST stand or the gospel isn't realized in my life. I MUST love the brothers (I John 3:14) without regard to their actions AND I MUST warn the brothers (Colossians 1:28) at every turn to be careful not to be deceived!

This is an uncomfortable position to be in, for sure. I don't want to risk upsetting or alienating another believer because I dearly love them. And yet, I don't want to risk their eternal security -- I don't want them to fall into deception, arrogance, or pride (to make a mistake) also because I dearly love them.

I have no choice. I MUST love them without condition. When a brother or sister comes to me with a sin in their life I MUST welcome the sinner without regard to his/her repentance over that sin. They are welcome in my world whether they have come to restoration in their faith or not ("...just as in Christ, God forgave you...") And yet I also must find a way to make sure they know what they are doing is sin toward God. This is an awesome responsibilty and perhaps the highest call of the believer.

Jon

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