Perfection and The Pastoral Charge
This article appeared in the July 29 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
© 07.27.10 By D. Eric Williams
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom,
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:28).
In last week's article I referenced Colossians 1:28 to illustrate the biblical consensus concerning our duty to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. I want to conclude the series with that passage and highlight the duty of the pastor in bringing his flock to perfection. This does not mean the individual has no responsibility for his own perfection but simply an acknowledgment of the work of the pastor as summed up in Colossians 1:28.
Paul says he warns every man, and means he exercises no discrimination in who needs to hear the truth. In Colossians, his focus is on Believers, but no doubt Paul warned anyone he came in contact with if God gave opportunity.
To warn is to admonish. It is to reprove one so he might recalibrate his life according to the word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Paul's warning is based upon the fact Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. The Apostle enjoined his flock concerning man's sinful condition and the need for repentance and obedience to the Word.
This doesn't mean everyone responds to the warning. In another place Paul said the gospel is the aroma of life to those who believe but the stench of death to those who do not. This is true even for those who claim to believe but refuse to submit to the authority of Jesus. And that is Paul's focus here. His warnings take place within the context of the body of Christ. He admonishes those who claim to be Christian and yet fail to make progress toward “perfection.”
Second, Paul teaches every man. He presented Christianity as a way of life based upon a particular doctrine. Paul did not promote mere personal piety; he proclaimed the need for perfection. He taught that a man must bring all of his life under the authority of Jesus. No facet of one's existence may be left out of the “clockwork” of his heavenly citizenship. To do so is self-centered and self-righteous. Those who refuse to embrace the teaching of the kingdom might claim to be pious but their rebellion eventually finds them out and ends in death.
Thus, the goal of warning and teaching is to present every man to the Lord as a “finished product.” The world takes notice as well. Paul told the church in Corinth he was concerned with doing right in the sight of the Lord and in the sight of man. In other words, our striving for perfection serves as a godly witness. Certainly there are eternal consequences involved, but we cannot lose sight of the fact Christianity is preeminently practical. Hence, the duty of the pastor is to bring those under his care into completeness and maturity so they may demonstrate kingdom living to the world.
Remember, to be perfect is to be complete in Christ. It means all our gears and wheels are in place and in working order. It means every aspect and every activity of our life is under the authority of Christ. Obedience to the word and submission to the Lord's delegated authority in family, church and civil relationships is practical proof of perfection.
Therefore, the perfect Christian walk has every part of life under the reign of Christ. The believer who hopes to grow in maturity must be willing to submit to his pastor's authority and labor to cultivate the new creation given him by God. In so doing we are enabled to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect and properly manifest the kingdom of heaven to this world.