July 26th 2001Â – Robert Lewis – Blackstone ValleyÂ Baptist ChurchÂ
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
We are to be consumed with a burning love for the Lord. But this is not the issue I wish to address in this short commentary. No, it is the SECOND greatest commandment I wish to comment on. It is the unselfish, equal love for our neighbor PASTOR that I refer to. I am speaking as a pastor to pastors. I am speaking as a pastor who participates in his local fellowship to pastors who may not participate in theirs. Let me say candidly, I am not promoting A fellowship here, but I am promoting fellowship. We all seem to think it is “good fellowship” when it is our fellowship to host. Everyone must come or miss out on a real blessing. We are going to offer the best speakers and singers available, not to mention our faultless selection of food. Our meeting will go down as an all time record of gargantuan proportions in providing our ministry brethren and their team a whopping great cataclysmic spiritual experience. We cannot imagine in our wildest nightmares that any brother within a thousand miles would boycott such a well organized meeting such as we have prepared. But the sad truth is that we do not always have the same enthusiasm for our brotherâ€™â€™s meeting at his church. I believe this is breaking the command of our text!All of us have the same amount of time. We donâ€™â€™t all have the same opinion of one another. I know this is true for several obvious reasons. In 30 years of ministry I have observed an unhealthy and unspiritual condition among those who claim to be “in fellowship” with one another.
The Hostage Taking Man
First of all there is the brother who will not go to a meeting unless he is invited to speak at that meeting. In his own mind he is the “main” speaker everywhere he goes. He keeps his self-inflated ego propped up by refusing to participate in anything that he is not the key player in. He is a legend in his own mind. In his actions he holds his friends hostage by saying, “Make me important or I wonâ€™â€™t come.”
The Helping Man
Next there is the brother who will not participate in a fellowship unless in a wild fit of compassion for his pitifully ill-equipped brothers he humbles himself enough to host a meeting. He is going to help them, and they need help so badly! Why if he can just help them get up to speed they will be worthy of his attention. They are such a miserable lot. They will surely appreciate his benevolence. He will really “put on the dog” to show them how it really should be done. This one time he will do it for their sakes. He really doesnâ€™â€™t need them. After all they are fortunate that he is in the neighborhood projecting a higher class of ministry. It will do them good to see his good success and listen to his wisdom.The Hurried Man
Then there comes the brother who just doesnâ€™â€™t have time for fellowship meetings. Wind him up and he runs around in circles. He is after all a busy man. He must go to the office supply store or count paper clips or program his cell phone. In his mind fellowship meetings are really a waste of his valuable time. He doesnâ€™â€™t need them, he doesnâ€™â€™t like them and he certainly doesnâ€™â€™t want to help some slob of a brother who doesnâ€™â€™t deserve it anyway.The Hopeless Man
Next there is the brother who cannot see the benefit of helping other brothers. After all, he is the one who needs to be encouraged. He needs approval. He himself needs commendation. He can hardly stand to be in a group where he might be asked to do something for somebody else. His ministry deserves all of him. It deserves all of his time and all the money he can scratch up. Those other hypocrites should be able to see his sincerity and try harder to be a blessing to him. He may, however, go to the meetings. By attending them he may be able to catch a few crumbs to get him by for another day or two. His own needs are over riding his calling and his good judgment.The Haughty Man
The last guy we will reflect upon is the guy who will not get involved in anything that will not benefit him or his ministry in a tangible way. He claims to be “focused,” but what he really has is a case of tunnel vision. He cannot see the forest of Godâ€™â€™s mighty oaks for his exaggerated view of his own little branch. His church is great. His meeting is great. His people are great. He really doesnâ€™â€™t believe that any other church is as good as his. No, not even if it has the same name, the same doctrine, the same Bible and breathes the same air. His is a REAL church. He knows his sheep are saved. He must be careful not to let his sheep associate with those in other sheep folds, lest they should become tainted with the imperfections of those other mediocre ministries. Itâ€™s funny, but a man will do what he thinks is important. Some very busy men think it is important to fellowship and to help one another. Some will travel hundreds of miles in order to do so, never expecting someone to pick up the tab at the end of the day. Sometimes these same men refuse to drive across town to fellowship with a brother who is near at hand. I wonder if any of those men mentioned above really think that their lack of love for their neighbor doesnâ€™t show or matter. Some questions have often come to my mind when reflecting on the general circumstances of the various fellowships I have been acquainted with.
Why is one manâ€™s meeting more important than another manâ€™s meeting?
Why is one manâ€™s time more important than another manâ€™s time?Why is one manâ€™s preaching more important than another manâ€™s preaching?Why is one manâ€™s needs more pressing than another manâ€™s needs?Why is the attention of others more important to some than their attention to others?I want to ask you preacher neighbor, Do you really know it ALL? Do you really have it ALL together? Do you really think that you need no one AT ALL? How can your brotherâ€™â€™s time not be as significant as your time? How can your brotherâ€™â€™s meeting not be as significant as your meeting? How can your brotherâ€™â€™s preaching not be as significant as your preaching? How can your brotherâ€™â€™s needs not be as significant as your needs?
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
Â Mark 12:30-31It seems to me that these two commandments have nearly equal importance.”In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” 1 John 3:10
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” 1 John 4:20
Fellowship is what we do more than what we are. If we are “in fellowship” with God then there is certainly going to be some activity connected to that fellowship with Him. The same is true with His second most important commandment. If we are “in fellowship” with our neighbor (pastor), then there is certainly going to be some activity connected to that fellowship with him.
I like the name Global Independent Baptist Fellowship. It says a lot. I am the one who suggested it in the first place. I also like local independent Baptist fellowships. I donâ€™â€™t see how you can have one without the other. But the name of a fellowship is not as important as the activities of that fellowship. Many an organization has had a name that it lived while it was dead. My earnest prayer is that this fellowship will be alive with a burning love for God and . . a burning love for our neighbors (pastors) which will burn passionately and consistently as we face the challenges of growing yet another generation of old-fashioned, Bible Loving, soul winning, church planting, Baptists. Well, that’s my two cents worth. I hope our tribe will increase.Â