Below is a link to an article published on Christianity.com that depicts how early Christians were interpreted by the Greco-Roman culture. There are so many similarities to our modern culture and much wisdom to be derived from our first-century brothers and sisters.
This also shows why early church confessions and statements of faith were so important. They were responding to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, without and heresies within.
The Christian Church, in its earliest centuries after Jesus, endured wave after wave of persecution. All kinds of insults and charges were hurled at them. A document written in the late 2nd century A.D. called The Octavius of Minicius Felix describes a debate between a Christian and a pagan at the Roman port of Ostia.
Joe Rogan was the ringside announcer for a UFC fight a few years ago. He mentioned in passing that one of the fighters was not 100% healthy. Then he made a comment that stuck with me. Rogan said, “rarely is anyone 100% healthy when he walks in the ring”.
Then he suggested that the fighter had to determine when he or she could fight, perhaps 80% or 90% but if they hold out for 100% they would rarely enter the ring – that’s the nature of mixed martial arts.
I think that is similar to the emotional life of a minister. Charles Spurgeon once said that a Pastor’s primary tool is not the brain or the muscles, but the heart (the seat of the emotions).
As we do ministry throughout the day, we are called upon to match people emotionally. Perhaps we speak with a broken-hearted woman whose family is falling apart, then on to a distraught father who is worried about his prodigal son, then there are hospital visits each with its own emotional weight.
Often times this emotional matching leaves us drained as we return home to our families. Then, we have to deal with the regular issues that come with parenting, marriage, and life.
You are responsible for your emotional tank. You have to guard it, refill it, and maintain it. Here are a few suggestions that may help:
Like the UFC fighter, if you only do ministry when you are 100%, you won’t get much done. BUT, it is possible to maintain an 80%-90% full emotional tank. What helps you keep your emotional tank full? Add your thoughts in the comment section below.
It was the spring of was 1976. I had been born in February of that year. At first things seemed to be going well for the first born son of the Carl and Teresa Terry. All of that changed when I began to run an extremely high fever that I just couldn’t shake. A series of tests revealed that I had been born perfectly healthy except for one organ – my left kidney. My kidney had not developed properly and as a result had begun to poison my body. At that time it was too risky to do surgery on a 3 month old child, so my parents had to take care of me for the next few months until I was nine months old and developed enough to undergo the removal of my kidney.
All of the pictures from that time found me with a little white cotton blanket covered with yellow bears. I don’t know whether it was the trauma of that event or just the comfort the blanket brought, but for some reason I bonded with the blanket on the Linus level. For the next 5 years, me and that blanket were inseparable. I carried it through every adventure, sleep over, and birthday party of my early childhood years.
From time to time my parents would attempt to take it away from me. Each time I responded with the same rebuke as soon as I was able to talk. “MINE!” That single syllable word was an ill advised theological declaration. I was declaring – this is NOT your’s. It does not belong to you. You are not allowed to touch it. This belongs to me. I don’t know why God gave it to me and not you, perhaps He knew that you would break it. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me NOT to share. Or else I would be calling into question the very wisdom of the Almighty, and that is neither good nor wise. This is my property – and nothing can separate me from what is MINE! The little blanket became affectionate known as my “mine”.
I’m sure it was cute at the time. As I grew up the insistence on possession and ownership of a long line of toys became less cute and more obnoxious. When my cousins would visit I would carefully arrange all of my toy guns in a pile and declare, “These are mine – those sticks are your’s”. When friends would come over to swim, certain floats were off limits, why? Because obviously, they were mine!
Fast forward 19 years to the fall of 1994 when I was broadsided by the fact that nothing actually belonged to me, even my very soul had been bought with a price. I was a regular listener to Chuck Swindoll and the Insight for Living radio program. One episode in particular stands out to me as Swindoll described a conversation he had with his church member, the great Corrie Ten Boon in which she said, “Chuck, a disciple of Christ holds all things loosely”.
A disciple of Christ holds all things loosely…
“Loosely”, I thought. But, someone might take it. Even, God may take it. The first few years of my Christian life may be described as the loosening the grip years. God systematically taught me that everything in my life actually belonged to Him. My career route was His. My talent was His. My friendships were His. Even the very faith with which I believed had been a gift from Him.