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From the Fall 2015 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Ministering Personally, Ministering Pastorally

by Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.
Director and Senior Teaching Fellow, C.S. Lewis Institute
of Charlotte and the Carolinas


This article is an excerpt from Chapter 14 in Dr. Milton’s book, The Secret Life of a Pastor (And Other Intimate Letters on Ministry). The book is a collection of pastoral letters written to students, pastors, and churches in order to stir them up to greater faith in Christ and love for His Church. Dr. Milton’s forthcoming book, Pastoral Theology, will be released in Spring 2016. It is hoped that these books will not only fill a need in Bible colleges, seminaries, and universities, but also through the C.S. Lewis Institute in ministry to clergy, staff and other disciples of Christ of local churches.

Dear Students of the Gospel of Christ:

  There’s something that is on my heart, something that I need to unburden myself of, and it is this: you minister to people best when you minister out of Christ’s compassion for the broken people God has placed in your life. Because all truth is God’s truth, this applies in other contexts, but its incarnational glory is fully displayed in the life and ministry of Christ our Lord. As a believer and a preacher of the Gospel, I minister out of the centering point of my life and my vocation—my faith in Jesus Christ.
  In the ninth chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is revealed as the great God of profound compassion. As one reads through the chapter that leads to the climactic moment when His great heart is fully revealed as a broken heart for the multitudes, Matthew shows how He had ministered. In the Lord’s compassion, He healed the sick, forgave reprobates, and raised the dead. He moved through the layers of hurting humanity with healing in His hands. Jesus Christ ministered to everyone who needed ministry. He went throughout all the villages healing every disease. There was inevitability about it all. “He will go on healing everyone,” it seems. Thus it was recorded in Matthew 4:

And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them (vv. 23-24 ESV).

  So in Chapter Nine:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction (Matthew 9:35 ESV).

  And yet the Son of Man came to a point in Matthew’s account that He looked up on the multitude who were like sheep without a shepherd, scattered (not a “dispersed” kind of scattered but the Greek means a “downcast” and “ravaged” understanding of scattered), and it was then that Matthew — a sinful tax collector converted by the compassion of Jesus Christ and who, in this ninth chapter, placed himself in his own writing like a Rembrandt in his own painting — reveals the love of our Savior. Matthew tells us that Jesus had compassion on the multitude for they were like sheep without a shepherd.
  The Greek expression for compassion is a word that speaks of the very intestines of our Savior -– the deep inner organs that were wracked with pain -– the pain of a compassion that no one can ever comprehend. It is the compassion of the Creator for His own creation. It is the compassion of a father for his children but in an infinitely more intimate relationship of love than you or I could ever fathom. Out of this deep-seated compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ comes His command. The command of Christ is that His disciples should pray. And for what or whom should we pray? What should be our response to this compassion of Jesus for the multitude gathered in Israel?


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