Saturday, October 31, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The stereotype still exists today. "The Deacon Board". You know the picture. A bunch of cranky old guys wearing suits; sitting around a table; laying out church policy, sometimes at odds with the Pastor; often with tempers flaring; the ruling body in the local Baptist Church. Is that the mental picture you have of the deacon?
Well, it's not what you may think.
That's not the way it is at Westmoreland Baptist Church; nor is it the biblical model for the "other" ordained office in a New Testament church. It may have been that way at WBC sometime in the past, but no longer. Sadly, the stereotype does still exist in many churches.
The Greek word "diakonos", usually translated as "Servant", is actually a combination of two Greek words – "dia" and "konos" – literally, "through the dust". The literal translation of the word indicates the very humble nature of the office. In biblical times the diakonos was the servant who washed the dust from the feet of the guest. He cleaned the dirty sandals. He was the humble character who served meals and saw to the welfare of others.
Most Bible scholars believe that the ecclesiastical office of deacon had its origin in the church at Jerusalem, during a crisis that is recorded in Acts 6. An accusation arose against the Apostles that a certain group of widows were being neglected in the church's benevolent ministry. Peter, James, and the others were quite busy in fulfilling their ministry of proclaiming the Word of God – evangelizing all who would listen, and discipling those who accepted the Gospel message.
Realizing that unity in God's family was essential, Peter spoke to the assembled congregation, and proposed a simple solution. The believers were to look into their membership and chose out several men who would see to this business of waiting tables. The church was told to look for men who were honest, and of good reputation, and spiritually deep. There would need to be a sense of humility, in those chosen. Since the work was one of ministry (or service) to others, these men would need to possess a selfless spirit, not an attitude of authority. The Apostle Paul, writing to the young pastor, Timothy, later gave a general list of qualifications for those who would fill the office of deacon (1 Tim.3:8-12)
I think it is important to note that the seven men listed in the Acts narrative did not volunteer or "campaign" for the job. After all, who in their right minds would be chomping at the bit to go "through the dust"? The key is that they were CHOSEN by their church, and we see no scriptural evidence that any who were chosen, declined to serve.
Some people have a convoluted idea of what is expected of a deacon. Some expect spiritual "supermen" who are perfect examples of what the true believer should be. Perhaps we are expecting too much, and perhaps those chosen for the office sometimes feel unworthy of the high standards we often place on the office. Now don't misunderstand me here. There ARE standards for the office, but the standards are set by God and not by us! We sometimes add to the scriptural standards, and unfortunately sometimes deacons themselves get the wrong idea and evaluate the office to that of a "Board of Directors".
A wise old pastor once told a conference I attended, "If you guys don't want your deacons to act as a Board of Directors, then don't you act like a CEO!"
Good counsel, indeed.
I am thankful for the men who we have serving Westmoreland Baptist Church in the office of deacon. Are they perfect? No. I'm afraid not. Neither, I suppose, were Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas; but they did meet the basic scriptural qualifications, their church had confidence in them, and they were willing to humbly serve.
Our deacon meetings at Westmoreland Baptist are not "miniature business meetings". That is not the purpose. Our meetings are times of sharing prayer requests and discussing how we may more effectively minister to the needs of our people, and how we may preserve unity in the church when difficulties may arise. One thing that has impressed me about every deacon with whom I have served, has been their desire to preserve that unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. No personal agendas. No ego battles. No ugly confrontations. Even when opinions may differ on one point or another, there has always been a desire to come together in unity and to lead our church in that direction.
On November 15th we will again chose deacons to serve our church for the coming three years. My prayer is that qualified men will allow themselves to be considered; that the church will make wise choices; and that the men who are selected will serve in that same humble spirit working "through the dust".
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- Family. I was blessed to be born into a wonderful loving family, with Christian parents, and good, godly grandparents, loving aunts and uncles, and a great group of cousins on both sides of the family. I was the first grandson on both sides, and was totally spoiled by the Adkins and Stidham clans. I have two wonderful brothers and we were all born at five year intervals. We live in three different states and don't often have opportunity to be together, but there is a tie that binds us closely together in love and care for one another. My two nephews and two nieces are some of the finest young people you would ever meet.
- Linda. One of God's greatest gifts to me. I met her forty years ago this month, and from that point on, she has been my love, my solid rock, my best friend, unwaveringly faithful and loyal, my chief supporter, my kindest critic, my sweet thing, and my prime rib. She has washed my clothes, cooked my meals, borne our children, and been the most loving wife, mother, and grandmother I have ever known. Ain't no woman like the one I've got!
- My Sons and their Families - Jay is a pastor and theologian. Benji is a teacher and coach. They are both good at what God has called them to do. He has blessed them with wonderful Christian wives who have been pictures of unconditional love and grace. The four grandsons that they have given us have been the light of our lives for these past (almost) 10 years. Quint, Will, Canon, and Asher are blessings to me that I cannot begin to describe with mere words!
- Friends. What can I say about the hundreds and hundreds of friends who have touched my life? They range from the boyhood buddies like Donnie Smith and Rick Hall, to school mates, military comrades, neighbors, kids I have coached, business colleagues, fellow service club members, band parents, athletic boosters, insurance clients, teachers, coaches, school administrators, friends of my children, and brothers in the ministry. The miracle of Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with some friends whom I haven't seen in more than 40 years. I love them all!
- Church Family. Mom and Dad took me to church from nine months before I was born until I left home as a young adult, and I grew up with a loving church family at Thomas Memorial Church in Huntington, WV. It has been my pleasure to serve in pastoral ministry to six congregations since 1976. I was an Associate Pastor (under Rev. Carl Vallance) at Central Free Will Baptist Church in Huntington, WV, and served as lead Pastor at Sousannah FWB, and Pleasant Valley FWB in Cabell County, Wayside Baptist and Ashland Baptist Churches in Kentucky, and for the past seven years at Westmoreland Baptist Church in Huntington, WV. I am happy to say that I feel that I could go back to any of those churches, and still feel right at home, and I still cherish the love and friendship of each of those precious congregations. In fact, I'll be preaching at Wayside's homecoming service this Sunday afternoon.
- Material Blessings. These are way down the list in importance, because they are temporal in nature, but appreciated nonetheless. I am thankful for a roof over my head, a comfortable home, the clothing I wear, dependable transportation, enough money to pay the bills (so far), and my library.
- My Health. I still see lots of doctors, but I thank God for the health care I have received, and that I am able to function physically and mentally (although some may think I am somewhat suspect in the latter category)
- My Savior. This is the greatest gift of all. The Grace of God reached all the way down to my fallen state, and brought me into a relationship with Him. He cleansed me. He forgave me. He brought me from death to life. Like the Psalmist said, "He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay. He sat my feet on a rock and established my goings. He put a new song in my heart". The means of this transformation is Jesus the Christ. He took my sin upon Himself and gave me eternal life.
Eternal life. That sounds good doesn't it"? Especially once the years in this one begin to mount into the really big numbers! I believe in Heaven and I know I am going there one day, but I am also thankful for the Abundant Life God has given me in the here and now. A line from John Denver's "Poems, Prayers, and Promises" has long been a favorite of mine, and kind of sums up how I feel on this 59th birthday, "I have to say it now, it's been a good life all in all. It's really fine to have a chance to hang around..."
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
"Would you treat this world like it is your home? It isn't. The greatest calamity is not to feel far from home when you are, but to feel right at home when you are not. Don't quench, but rather, stir this longing for heaven."
"This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home in this world any more."
Friday, October 9, 2009
It’s not that I am completely ignorant, in fact I have learned quite a bit on my computer by trial and error over the past few years, but I am still so woefully inadequate it is embarrassing (and frustrating). At this writing I am sitting in Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, awaiting my flight to New Orleans, which is due to board in about an hour.
Thought I would be able to use this time to pick up some news, on the computer and maybe post to my blog. Found a seat near a receptacle (which is a minor miracle in itself) and plugged in the old laptop and logged on. The Charlotte airport has a free wireless network which I have used many times before. It shows an excellent signal and I quickly connected to it. However when I try to bring up a website – ANY website – I get a message that the computer cannot display that page.
Heck if I know. I hit the button that said “Diagnose this Problem” and it gave me some gobbledygook about installing a cable. I hit some button about installing a new IP something or other, and after several minutes of waiting, got a notice that I must have done the wrong thing (in so many words). I talked to Linda on the cell phone and she told me to log off and then back on. Did that three times – same result – nada!
So, here I sit, typing away like crazy in Microsoft Word, looking for an opportunity to post this confession of my inadequateness when I can finally log onto my blog site.
It’s been a long day already and it is only 4:00 PM. Still nearly an hour away from boarding, and another two hours from seeing my family in the Big Easy. The funeral this morning was a nice service, but the rushing to get back to church, change clothes, and get to the airport was taxing. I slept off and on through the hour and ten minute flight, listening to my ipod and (from the looks from nearby passengers) probably snoring. Only four hours sleep last night explains that. Hope to finish my nap on the New Orleans flight.
Perhaps I can post this when I get to Jay’s house later tonight – although I really don’t know who might possibly be interested in reading this drivel.
I did pass a guy in the main concourse (heading in the opposite direction) wearing a Marshall shirt. (Go Herd!) Also there is an Ann Coulter looking young lady here at the gate for the New Orleans flight, who was also on the flight from Huntington. Haven’t spoken to her yet – primarily because I really don’t have anything to say (she’s probably already heard the “You sure do look like Ann Coulter” comments a thousand times before) and secondly because she hasn’t been off the cell phone since we arrived from Huntington.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
the one up above
to the ones who need to live
the words the parents say
to the one we call our King
the thing called our soul
those are the things we need to do to live!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I became a Reds fan as a nine year old in 1960. The late Fred Hutchinson's magical 1961 team who lost 4-1 to the Yankees in the October Classic set the stage for a young boy's expectations. The 70's were a special time for Reds fans everywhere. The 1975 World Series between the Reds and the Boston Red Sox was arguably the greatest series ever. Then in 1976 the Big Red Machine reached their zenith by winning the National League pennant and sweeping the mighty New York Yankees in four games. I was busy raising a family and building an insurance business in the 80's and 90's, and even though the Redlegs won the 1990 World Series on my 40th birthday, it just wasn't the same as before.
For some reason, I began to keep up with the Reds this season. Not like I did as a kid - listening to every inning of every game on the radio. There's just no time for that. However, with the Fox Sports Ohio network carrying most of the Reds games, I was able to pick up a few innings here and a few innings there, and I began to catch the bug again. Young players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips set the tone with new hopes for the future.
There was no "June Swoon" this year, and excitement was building as I took the grandsons and another friend and his son to a game with the Cardinals on July 3rd. The Reds were trailing the Cards by only 1/2 game and I was really beginning to get that old time feeling again. But that very night seemed to set the stage for the disastrous remainder of the season.
Reds were on top in the 8th inning when one swing of big Albert Pujols' bat plated four runs, and started the Reds on a down hill slide through the entire months of July and August. To be honest, injuries played a big part in the Reds demise this season. But hope springs eternal. There are some fine young players coming back next season. If Aaron Harang can get back on track, if Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey can pitch next season as effectively as they have the latter part of this season, who knows?
Maybe next year!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Another piece of my childhood bit the dust yesterday, when Scarberry and Son Excavation and Demolition Company tore down the old Jarrell House next door to Mom and Dad's home.
The little house at 290 Gallaher Street dated far back beyond my memory.
It was the lifelong home of Hurston and Toka Jarrell. I called them Mamaw and Papaw Jarrell, although they were no relation to us at all. Mom and Dad had me call them that out of respect. They had no grandchildren of their own. Their two daughters had died as children during the great Spanish Influenza pandemic that killed over 60 million people between 1918 and 1920. They were a lonely old couple who spent each evening sitting on the sun porch of their home, lights out, watching the comings and goings of the neighborhood, especially the busy young preacher's family who lived in their rental house next door at 292.
Mr. Jarrell was retired from the C&O railroad. He was a kind old gentleman, who never learned to drive a car. He mowed his grass with an old fashioned manual push mower, and worked in his garden religiously. As I remember him, he had a wry sense of humor, and would tip his hat and say "Hello Ma'am" to the mannequins when Dad would take him to the local Sears Roebuck store. His wife, on the other hand, was the old lady in the neighborhood who would shoo dogs and kids out of her yard by knocking loudly on her sun porch windows. An errant ball, accidentally thrown over the fence into the Jarrell's yard became her property until she could point out our carelessness to Dad when he would arrive home from work.
Dad had decided to leave the coal mines of Logan County, WV, when he was passed over for a company house. So he took a job in Huntington with the International Nickel Company where his older brother had previously found employment. At that time, Mom's father, Jerry Stidham, was serving in the House of Delegates with Mike Casey of Cabell County. The Caseys had become good friends of my grandparents and they agreed to try to help Mom and Dad find a house in Huntington. After asking around, they learned that the Jarrells had a house for rent on Gallaher Street, about a block from the Casey's home on Allen Avenue. The vacant house had belonged to Mrs. Jarrell's late sister. It was a small four room house with a detached "wash house" in which the bathroom was also located.
In the fall of 1952, Caudle and Patsy Adkins and their talkative little two year old, rented the cottage from the Jarrells for $25.00 per month. The Jarrells were kind enough to build a bathroom on to the house shortly after our family moved in. I learned later in life that Mrs. Jarrell (whom I had thought to be the grouchiest old lady in the world) felt sorry for Mom and the little boy (me) to have to go out to the wash house to use the bathroom or take a bath. Eventually the rent was increased to $35.00 per month, and finally around 1960 the Jarrells agreed to sell the house at 292 to Mom and Dad. After 57 years, several additions and remodeling projects, the house is still the home that Mom and Dad live in today.
Mrs. Jarrell passed away first. Although their nephew, Police Captain Clifford Jarrell, looked in on the old gentlemen on a regular basis, Dad and Mom saw to his daily well being. Mom would always fix an extra plate at dinner time, and one of my duties was to deliver the evening meal to Mr. Jarrell. Every evening, I would find him in the "sitting room" listening to a news broadcast on the large old fashioned table top radio. They never owned a television set. When he passed away, it sort of signaled the end of an era on Gallaher Street where he was one of the last of the remaining old timers.
Ownership of the Jarrell's house at 290 Gallaher Street went to their nephew after Mr. Jarrell's passing. It was rented out to a few different tenants, and eventually, when the Police Captain passed away, his widow had no desire to remain in the rental business. Dad and Gene Black (the neighbor on the lower side of the Jarrell home) made an offer to purchase the property which was accepted. Dad and Gene decided to rent out the house until it was paid for, and then have it demolished, and subdivide the 40 foot wide property between them.
That plan finally got to the demolition stage yesterday.
I watched with some sadness as the huge backhoe made short work of reducing the neighborhood landmark to a pile of splinters. By today, everything but the front steps, a portion of the foundation, and some busted up concrete are all that remain between Gene's house and our old home place.
My mind wandered back to the summer days of my childhood. Old friends and forgotten back yard ball games came back to memory. Mom and Dad were young and busy. My two brothers came along at five year intervals and our adventures together with other neighborhood kids increased as we all grew older.
As I snapped back to 2009 I looked at my parents. Mom is slipping deeper and deeper into the abyss of Alzheimers. Memory is a luxury she no longer possesses. Dad, at 82, slowly moving about the house, cannot go out now without his walker or cane. My brothers and our families are scattered about in Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, and Louisiana, and now I am only 12 months shy of my own 60th birthday.
As I watched the old house next door come down, it was just another reminder of the transitory nature of life, and the fact that the circle of life continues. Solomon sounded a little on the depressed side when he wrote these words in Ecclesiastes, chapter one:
"A generation goes and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets;
panting, it returns to its place where it rises.
6 Gusting to the south,
turning to the north,
turning, turning, goes the wind,
and the wind returns in its cycles.
7 All the streams flow to the sea,
yet the sea is never full. The streams are flowing to the place, and they flow there again.
8 All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Can one say about anything,"Look, this is new"? It has already existed in the ages before us.
11 There is no memory of those who came before; and of those who will come after there will also be no memory among those who follow them ." (HCSB)
In a world where generations come and go, and eventually no evidence of their existence remains, I am thankful that this world is not my final home. If all that there is, is here and now, our lives would indeed be sad. I thank God for the experiences of my life. I cherish my loved ones and the memories of nearly six decades, but I take comfort in knowing that this world is just a "getting' ready place. It's a place to prepare for the wonderful existence to come in the very presence of my Redeemer.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I never met my Great Grandmother Pack. She was gone long before I was born in 1950. However, I have heard numerous stories about her from my Dad and a number of his relatives. She was an old time, straight laced country mother from rural Wayne County, WV, and a rare Republican in a sea of Democrats. Dad said she wore long dresses with several petticoats underneath. One of the petticoats was fashioned from the heavy striped material which was used to make old fashioned bed pillows. There was a pocket sewn into the garment, and it was there that she kept her pipe and tobacco. She had a hardscrabble existence but raised a large family with a healthy dose of love. Her tobacco habit notwithstanding, she took her religion, like some of her kinfolk took their liquor – hard and straight!
A particular story about Grandma Pack that I always loved involved her first trip to a local amusement park. This would have been sometime in the mid 30's, when the park was a little less "family friendly" than it is today. At that time it had a swimming pool and also sold beer to its patrons. To Grandma Pack, who was a devout member of the Old Regular Baptist Church, the public spectacle of alcohol swigging, scantily clad (by 1935 standards) sun bathers was absolutely appalling. After returning home to the Cove Gap area, someone asked her, "Grandma, how did you like Camden Park?"
"Lord, child!" she replied, "All my life I have heard and read in the Bible about abominations, but that was the first time I had ever seen one with my own eyes!"
One can only imagine how Grandma Pack would react to the public abominations that dominate our culture these days. There are plenty abominations to go around, but none more blatant and disgusting than the reaction of much of the Hollywood crowd to the recent arrest of film director Roman Polanski at a film festival in Switzerland.
Many will remember the scandal back in 1977 when Polanski, the widower of actress Sharon Tate (who had been murdered by the Charles Manson "family") was arrested on charges of having sex with a thirteen year old girl. The 47 year old director of "Rosemary's Baby" admitted to giving the juvenile booze and drugs before having his way with her. He was sent to jail for about six weeks for mental evaluation. When he was released on bond, fearing more and harder jail time, he boarded a plane for France. He has lived in Europe as a fugitive from justice for the past 32 years for fear of the prison time that awaited him here.
Polanski had legal avenues he could have pursued at the time. He could have obtained a "dream team" of attorneys (he could certainly afford it). He could have changed his plea and taken his chances with a jury. If convicted, he could have appealed the decision. He could have let the justice system run its course and eventually taken responsibility for his reckless behavior. But instead, he chose to run and to live the life of a fugitive.
The most recent chapter in the lurid saga came when he was arrested last week in Switzerland. He had come there to a film festival, where he was scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award from his peers. When he arrived in Zurich, authorities placed him under arrest and extradition proceedings were begun to bring Polanski back to America for trial. Then came the outrage – at least from the Hollywood crowd.
First we were treated to Debra Winger, speaking for many of the festival attendees. Reading from a prepared statement, the actress decried the "draconian actions" of those who arrested Polanski. A number of leading members of the film making community condemned the U.S. for daring to have Polanski arrested. After all, they argued, it's been 32 years, and Polanski has continued to produce critically acclaimed films while living in exile. Several European leaders joined the chorus, glad to have opportunity to bash the United States. Even that acclaimed constitutional expert, Whoopi Goldberg, weighed in on "The View" when she reasoned that "It wasn't really RAPE, rape" (implying that Polanski's transaction with the 13 year old victim was consensual). When asked by another panel member if she would want her 13 year old daughter to have sex with a 47 year old man, Goldberg hesitated before answering, "Well, I'd have to give it some thought".
What are these people thinking?
This man molested a 13 year old child. By his own admission he plied her with champagne and drugs and took her to Jack Nicholson's house, promising her a photo op with the big star. This girl was not capable of consent! No parent in his or her right mind would even consider allowing their child to be abused in such a manner. The most shocking part of this whole story is that a certain segment of our society sees no apparent problem here. How low have we fallen in our culture? Even among prisoners in our penal system, child molesters are the most despised inmates in the population. Yet many of the "enlightened" artists of the entertainment industry feel that Polanski has been somehow wronged.
He presently remains incarcerated in Switzerland, fighting extradition to the United States.
Forgiveness and mercy are in the Sovereign hands of Almighty God. Justice and the rule of law are the duties of human government. As unfair as it may seem to the likes of Debra Winger, Harrison Ford, and many other "celebrities", it is time for Mr. Polanski to face the music. As a lad, when I may have been caught up in some type of miscreant behavior, my Dad would always remind me (as my punishment was being delivered), "Son, you can't do wrong and get by".
Polanski's crimes were not "alleged". He admitted to his misdeeds. Then he committed another crime by fleeing from justice. The very notion that the passing of 32 years and the production of critically acclaimed motion pictures should somehow negate the heinous nature of Polanski's crimes is preposterous. That, my friends, along with Polanski's detestable behavior, IS an abomination.
Friday, October 2, 2009
We find this little incident in some of the final verses of the Gospel of John:
Chapter 21 seems to be somewhat of an epilog – tying up a few loose ends. John had just finished what we know as the 20th chapter of his Gospel with these closing words:
"And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;
but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."
This is the key verse of John's Gospel. It plainly sets out the purpose of his writing. But there are still some unanswered questions regarding events after the resurrection of Christ. John doesn't give us a terrible lot of details, but he does use this little epilog to answer some questions about Jesus, and about John's former fishing partner – Simon Peter.
You will remember that Peter had been the one who had thrice denied even knowing Christ on the night of his arrest. One can only imagine the grief and self loathing that Peter felt in knowing how he had failed his master. This denial came even after Peter's boasting that he would never deny Him, and saying that he would go with Jesus into prison – or even death if need be.
It all started so promisingly. He and the others had left everything to follow Jesus. Now nothing was as it had been during the three and one half years Peter had followed the Master. John tells us that Jesus had shown Himself to the 11 on two occasions. They knew He was alive, but there were so many unanswered questions! Peter voiced what I believe to be his frustration and uncertainty when he announced to the other disciples, "I am going fishing." (vs. 3) This is what Peter had been doing for a living when Jesus had called him to follow Him. Peter left his nets and his boat, and had followed Christ, under the promise of becoming a "fisher of men". Now perhaps, the former fisherman had decided to go back to the familiarity and comfort zone of the Sea of Galilee, to renew his former profession. The other disciples, spoke up and said, "We're going with you". So they spent the night casting the nets into the sea.
It was in this setting when the risen Christ appeared on the shore early in the morning and called out to them. "Have you caught anything?" Their answer was in the negative. "No, we have fished all night and have taken nothing." Jesus instructed them to cast their nets on the starboard side of the boat. They did so, and the nets were suddenly filled with 153 wiggling, struggling fish. John said to Peter, "It is the Lord", and Peter cast himself into the sea, swimming furiously for the risen Master on the shore.
Jesus had breakfast cooking on the fire and invited Peter and the others to join him, and to bring some of their own catch to add to the feast. Jesus then began his famous dialog with Peter, about which we have heard so much. Some will say that Peter had denied Christ three times, and as a result, Jesus instructed Peter thrice to "Feed His sheep." We are also aware of the subtlety of the two different Greek words that Jesus used when he asked Peter three times, "Do you love me more than these?"
All that aside, I want you to note that Jesus specifically instructed the impetuous disciple that He had a task for Peter to accomplish. It was Jesus' personal commission to Peter to be a shepherd to the sheep that would be entrusted to him. Yes, the one who had denied Christ just a few days earlier, was receiving personal instructions regarding the duties the Master would require of him. Furthermore, Jesus even revealed something to Peter about the things he would suffer and how he would eventually be martyred for his faith in Christ.
Like so many of us are prone to do, Peter looked around and saw his former fishing partner, John, the guy who had outrun him to the empty tomb on that Resurrection Sunday. Here is how John describes it:
"Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following …"But Lord, what about this man?"
Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."
Never mind that Jesus had forgiven Peter of his great sin, and given him a specific work to do for the Kingdom. Forget the fact that Jesus came to where Peter worked to feed him and personally send him into his Apostolic career. No matter that Jesus even chose to give him a little glimpse into his future. What was Peter's reaction?
"What about this guy? What's going to happen to him?"
Isn't that so much like us?
God has a work for each of us. He calls and gifts us each according to His Sovereign Will. He equips us for our work in His Kingdom and commissions us to be on our way and about His business. And what do we do? We start looking around at others.
"What about this guy? What will this woman do? What's going to happen to them? How come you have assigned this task to me, and you exempt this person from that type of situation? Where is the fairness? Who will get the most credit? Which job is really more important?"
The questions can go on and on…
But note the answer of Jesus:
"What's it to you? You follow me!"
It is human nature to try to compare our situation to that of others. Aren't we sometimes like the old Apostle? Why do we have to suffer when someone else may not? Why do we feel obliged to sacrifice when we don't see that virtue in another brother or sister? Why do they get away with not doing their job like I think they should? Why does someone else seem to get off without doing what I have to do?
Again Jesus' voice rings out, "What is that to you? I have saved you. I have looked beyond your faults and shortcomings and graciously brought you into relationship with my Father. I have gifted you and assigned you your divine marching orders. Get your eyes off others and follow me!"
Are you obsessed with the performance of others? Are you losing your focus?
What's it to you?
Take care of your own tasks for the Glory of God, and leave the rest to Him.