Puritan Pastor Richard Baxter (1615-1691) once said,
“It’s better that men should be disorderly saved than orderly damned, and that the Church be disorderly preserved than orderly destroyed,” quoted in Geoffrey F. Nuttall, Howel Harris: 1714-1773: The Last Enthusiast (Cardiff, 1965), page 42.
One of my heroes of the faith, Ray Ortlund, Jr., recently reminded me of Baxter’s powerful pastoral ministry. In seminary I read Baxter’s call to pastors, “The Reformed Pastor.” Having pastored the same body of believers now for 17 years (not the same ones of course), and having come to an agonizing realization that I am no better than those that I shepherd, it is however more than comforting to be reminded that it is better to be a little bit whacked in the head while going to heaven than having my shorts starched and pressed and still go to hell. What a damning shame it is to believe that if you’re clean and cut on the outside that Jesus is impressed. Better to just go ahead and fess up that you’re a fixer-upper that’s going to take a very, very long time to repair. But Jesus is the best carpenter that ever walked this broken-down world – he can do wonders on you.
The Christian Life is not one that is free from some serious messy stuff. The disciples were jockeying for a-head-by-a-nose advancement on being greater than the other right up to the wire when Jesus was crucified. It’s really hard to die to selfishness. That’s why Jesus did it for us, so that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who died and was raised for us (2 Cor. 5:15).
I’m thankful that I get to pastor a church where they love me not because I’m better than them, but because Christ is better than me. Whew’ – what a relief.