I once heard a story about a vicar who was moved to tears the first time he was asked to preach at the church he was training under; it wasn’t the invitation to preach that brought tears to his eyes, but what he saw the first time he stood in the pulpit. As he ascended the pulpit to preach, he noticed a little bronze plaque attached to the interior wall, which said six words, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus”. It was at that moment the Vicar looked out into the congregation and saw the people for what they truly were, pilgrim saints who longed for the crumbs under the table.
This simple story, I believe, sums up the greatest duty of the pastor in terms of preaching, teaching, and administering the Sacraments, “We wish to see Jesus”. But if you are reading this, I wonder if your needs to “see Jesus” are being fulfilled. Is your pastor a shepherd leading his flock to the one who “bought us with His precious blood”, or is he just another Moses telling you about another set of “seven principles” that can change your life? Perhaps you feel your pastor is letting you see Jesus, if so, that is wonderful, but let me ask you something. Where is he telling you that one can see Jesus? If your pastor is telling you that you can find Jesus within yourself, within emotional experiences, or in “good deeds”, then he has done everything but let you see Jesus. As our Pastor has always said, “Jesus can be seen where He has promised to be, in the Word and in the Sacraments”.
If you are hungry for the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, or have found yourself to be more familiar with being told what to do than about the One who said, “It is finished”, I ask you to honestly take a good look at the church you are currently attending and prayerfully consider finding a new church that is cross focused and Christ centered in Word and Sacrament. If you find yourself on this journey, then please go to Wittenberg Trail. There you will find various resources about Confessional Christianity grounded in the historic faith, but evangelical in its understanding of the Gospel. If you are in Houston, TX, then I’d love nothing more than to have you visit my church. On the other hand, maybe you don’t want to be uprooted from the church where you were possibily raised or have friends. If that is your situation, then I will leave you with a few thoughts to consider from a man who has been where you are:
Here’s my experience (is it really so different from yours?). When I hear sermons that are all about telling me what to do, how to live the Christian life, etc. I get either depressed or bored. I come to church to hear about my Beloved, not about myself. And when I do hear about what He has done for me and for us all, which is the Gospel, then I often find myself weeping for joy.
– Dr. Philip Cary
Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue;
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affections, and bound my soul fast…
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.
– “Thy Mercy” by John Stocker