“I wasn’t born a pastor.”
I will never forget the moment I heard these words from Pastor Dave West during a pre-marital counseling session with my then future wife. Neither of us had any real intention of becoming part of a church, we just wanted to get married. So we went into this session hoping to only disclose enough about ourselves so that this pastor would be satisfied and preside over our wedding. Heck, we had only been attending the church for about three weeks and with just the intention of finding a pastor to marry us and a church to do it in.
When I went into that pre-marital counseling session, I thought I knew what pastors and Bible thumping Christians were. I assumed that they had all lived sheltered lives that led them to a Pollyanna naivety about the real world. So when I heard these words, they flew in the face of what I—naively—believed to be true; and they caused me to truly consider that I might not be the only person with an imperfect history.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote to the Christians in the churches, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3 NIV).
This statement is important for believers and unbelievers alike. For the believer, the Christian, this statement is true. Regardless of who you are, where you came from, what your past was, who your daddy is, or what you have done since following Jesus, you were was once not a Christian. It’s a great disservice to this world for Christians to act pretentious or to think that they were chosen by God because they were somehow more special to Him than others.
Every Christian was once an unbeliever who was dead in their transgressions and sins. Let Christians never forget this or believe otherwise lest they become ignorantly arrogant about their righteousness. Your pastor, your priest, your bishop, even your elders; they were all once sinners who gratified their own desires before anything or anyone else. But that is not the end of the story!
Paul continues, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV).
Our story—His story—is the story of resurrection from the dead! This is the story of every believer and, if we remember His amazing grace, it can become the story of every unbeliever as well. See for the non-Christian this is a story of hope. It is a story that can encourage others to know that wherever they are in life, whatever they believe, whatever they have done, they can find truth and grace in God’s amazing love for them.
Pastor Dave revealed to me that day how truly human he was. He hardly knew me and yet he talked about parts of his own story that I would have thought he would have wanted to keep secret, at least from a stranger. But he didn’t and his confidence in his position, regardless of his past, really struck me as different from what I expected. You see, he was confident that God’s grace had removed the power of anything sinful he had done.
I pray that every Christian would take time to really consider the truth in Paul’s words, that we were all once sinners who were dead in our transgressions. And I pray that we would never forget how far gone we were when God poured His grace upon us. I pray this so that we would be more gracious about this gift God has given us, and that our stories may encourage others to find life in His grace as well.
As I write this, it just happens to be Pastor Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Pastor Dave! No, you were not born a pastor, but by His grace you became one. And because you allowed His grace to pour out of you into others, many more of us have received that same grace that brought us life.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!