Pastor’s Garage October 21, 2021

Have you ever seen one of those strongman competitions? There’s a part of
it where there are two heavy weights connected to chains and the winner is
the one who can hang on the longest as the weights pull in opposite
directions, threatening to pull their arms out of their sockets. It’s
pretty intense.

Can I be transparent with you about something? As your pastor I have felt
kind of like one of those competitors these last few months. I have felt
pulled in many different directions and I am feeling like I am no longer
able to hang on.

There are a significant number of you who have chosen to do your best to
follow all of the health regulations, including getting a vaccine. You have
chosen to follow the rules and believe the best path forward is to follow
them. There are even some who have chosen to stay away from church
gatherings because of concerns about covid.

There are also a number of you who view what is going on with a high degree
of skepticism and have chosen to push against the rules and systems to one
degree or another. Some have even chosen to stay away from church
gatherings because of things like masks and vaccines.

There is also a group of you who have chosen to distance yourself from
church and church gatherings for reasons not mentioned above. Perhaps it’s
complacency, anxiety or something else, I don’t know. (I miss you and love
you guys!)

I can’t say I disagree completely with any position, nor could I say I
disagree. I see valid points and concerns all over the place, but I perhaps
don’t put them together quite the same. In saying that I realize that it’s
probably not fair to stick anyone in a ‘camp,’ as all of our views and
standpoints are probably pretty nuanced, but for the sake of discussion I
just wanted to point out how diverse the spectrum is. My point in writing
this is not to get anyone to agree to my viewpoint or to convince you where
you are wrong. My point in writing is to share where my heart is at. For me
I have chosen to walk the path of peace, which is probably somewhere in the
middle of it all. The one thing we all seem to have in common these days
however is our sense of being right! We are all right, everyone else is
wrong, so it’s pretty pointless to argue anyway.

I feel torn apart! There are people I love and care about in all these
camps. People that I hold dear to my heart that I have desperately been
trying to hang on to. I have been attempting to understand everyone’s
views, listen, affirm, sympathize, withhold my view, and at times even be a
bit of a chameleon – just to keep the peace and to hang on to the people I
love. I feel as though my grip is slipping as the polarization continues.
In fact, there are some of you that I feel like I have already lost. I’ve
lost your friendship and we’ve lost an important member of our body.
Whether or not some of my hanging on is right or wrong is up for debate,
but I can’t help but think about 1 Corinthians 9:22 ” I have become all
things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul
did whatever he could to make sure people found and hung onto Christ.
That’s my heart for the people in my life, but it’s getting harder and
harder to do as the divide widens.

I think it’s easier to hold to our viewpoint than it is to be humble,
gracious and compassionate and attempt to understand people who think so
differently than us. But I think that is what being a minister is all
about. Hey, Jesus didn’t win by winning, he won by losing! Is it really so
important being right (as if anyone really knows they are right anyway)?
It’s tough slugging trying to hold things together, but this is not new.
Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, ” We were under great pressure, far
beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed,
we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we
might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” I don’t need
to fear. God will give me the strength I need – and I don’t think I have
even been pushed to the point of despairing of life yet! I am going to keep
hanging on and tighten my grip, but I need you to hold on too, I can’t do
this alone!

*To all of my dear friends, many who do not have compatible views, I say
this, be humble, kind, compassionate, forgiving, gracious, open-minded,
passionate for God, honest, patient, slow to anger, courageous, sacrificial
and while you are at it protect the weak and pursue integrity.* Romans 12:3
says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of
yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with
sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of

Oh and one announcement, this Sunday we will be having a global worker
share with us some of their missions work. We will be broadcasting the
service live, but will be taking it down immediately after the service to
protect their identity. Soif you want to hear what they have to say, please
do your best to be online on time.

Hanging on to what matters,

Pastor Dave