In the mornings I read from Dobberstein´s Anthology – just two pages most days. It´s like sitting at breakfast with my father-in-law back in old Wittenberg and discussing our wonderful work and most gracious calling. Obviously, some days are more remarkable than others. Sometimes it moves me. Sometimes I just want to share, what I´ve just read. Sometimes, that does not work out, but sometimes it does. Normally, I just post one author, however, this morning I feel, that Bryan Green supplements our venerable Doctor nicely in Dobberstein´s selections for Mondays under the rubric “The ministry: Its promise and responsibility”. So, here goes. Luther first. He writes on complete surrender:
If I were to write of the burdens that a preacher must bear and endure, as I know them and myself experienced, I would frighten everybody away from the ministry. For a devout, God-fearing preacher must be so minded that there is nothing he desires more than Christ, his Lord and Savior, and the eternal life to come, so that even though he lose this life and all else, Christ would still say to him: “Come unto me; You have been my beloved, faithful servant.”Martin Luther quoted in Dobberstein Pg. 234
That reminds me of his 4th stanza in his hymn: “A mighty fortress…” and also his advice concerning marriage i.e. that one should encourage young people to marry by highlighting the good things about this godly institution and not dwell too much on the cross and sorrows it brings as otherwise nobody would dare get into this. But it also recalls the lovely hymn for this week by Johann Frank: “Jesus, priceless treasure…” (LSB 743) – here in a translation by Catherine Winkworth:
Banish thoughts of sadness,Johann Frank 1618-1677
for the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in;
though the clouds may gather,
those who love the Savior
still have peace within.
Though I bear much sorrow here,
still in you lies purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure!
Then Dobberstein adds some thoughts by Bryan Green on three certainties as an evangelist:
My experience as an evangelist has brought me three certainties. I am certain that to preach the gospel in season and out of season, and to believe that a man is able to respond to the power of the Holy Spirit is to live no easy life. There is a strain and a going out of virtue which is very real. The gospel always produces a division amongst people; there is, therefore, ever present both in individual contact and in public assembly a note of discord. There are those who are for and those who are against; he would preach the gospel cannot be insensitive to this. He must be prepared for criticism, some of it no doubt very fair and just, but much of it occasioned by a rationalization on the part of those who will not accept the gospel he preaches. Preaching the gospel is not a pastime of peaceful fishing, but rather a battle to land the fish.
Another certainty is the clear conviction of my own complete unworthiness to preach the gospel. The Spirit of God does not use a man to proclaim his gospel because of what he is, but in spite of him; and the more one sees the power of God to change people´s lives the less one feels worthy to be used to proclaim it. There is a very real sense in which one knows beyond all doubt that the work of conversion is all of God and not of man. The words of St. Paul ring an echo in the heart of every true evangelist: “I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
Finally, however much, on looking back, one wishes that this or that had not been done or said, there is one thing I would never have altered; it is that on a day many years ago now the compulsion of Christ came to my heart and mind, and I knew that I must share the Christ that I had discovered for myself as Saviour and Lord. In that sharing, most fearfully and self-consciously begun, I started to discover what evangelism meant, and that discovery has been the greatest I have ever made. I would not have done anything else with my life than to seek with every power that I possess to share the gospel of Christ with all who would listen.Dobberstein 235f