Sitting among a seasoned group of sermon makers to examine a young minister for ordination was not a new experience for me. I had no way of knowing, however, that this one under pressure would shock me with his answer to an important question and send me home wiser than when I came.
Ordination councils are usually made up of ministers from many churches. Church board members and other officers of congregations may also be part of the grilling group that will, after hours of questioning, recommend or advise to deny ordination.
This young preacher had been sailing along with ease explaining his beliefs, his knowledge of church doctrines, his views on correc t c onduct and other areas that are standard fare at such proceedings; then came the question and answer that shocked me.
"Are you ready to die for your faith?" someone asked.
"Not today," I heard him say.
When I was ordained, I was told I must be willing to preach, pray or die at a moment's notice. Now this one on whose request I must vote seemed to be saying he wasn't totally committed to his Lord; that he needed time to develop greater faith before being willing to lay his life on the line. Was this some kind of delayed dedication we were to expect him to achieve before crunch time?
Evidently sensing he had placed his ordination in jeopardy with his surprising answer, the questioned one immediately turned his attention to damage control, explaining he was not prepared to die for his faith that day because he was not yet in a life threatening situation. He said he was confident that should that time arrive, his Lord would provide grace for the occasion.
What about this explanation?
I had to admit it did have a familiar ring, closely resembling what our Lord had said to His disciples: "And you will be brought before governors and kings for My sake...but when they deliver you up do not worry about what you should speak. For it will be given you in that hour what you should speak" (Matthew 10:18 -19).
Grace for the moment: what a fear fighting concept!
We don't have to picture ourselves before firing squads, imagine being imprisoned for our faith or even feel pain's torment resulting from some anticipated accident or illness. To do so, is to live through suffering we may never have to endure. We don't have to pump up our faith in advance to survive tough times. God's grace arrives in our weakest hour or darkest day imparting strength for every need.
In his book, "Confessions of a Happy Christian," Zig Ziglar says he has given up staying awake at night because the Lord is awake all the time. He's given up worrying about tomorrow because God is already there. He no longer frets about financial concerns because he's convinced the Lord is more concerned about our needs than we are and that His unlimited resources will always be enough.
The candid candidate turned out to be an example of the faith he intended to spend his life sharing; one who has chosen to trust rather than tremble about what he might someday face, expecting God to provide grace for what ever would come his way.
We recommended his ordination.
Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He has written more than 20 books and been published in major Christian magazines. He was a pastor for 22 years and been a guest speaker in Alaska churches.
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