My dad (a pastor), in referring to qualities of a good pastor, has said that there seem to be two types of preachers – fountains and rain barrels. I’m not sure if he made that up himself, or if he got it from someone else. Since he considers himself a rain barrel, it would be safe to assume that he was quoting someone else. A rain barrel pastor is one who collects the things other people have said about a certain subject or passage, synthesizes them, and presents them in his own way. A fountain is one who can look at a topic or passage and expound on it in a fresh way – maybe say something that no one else has said before. Examples of fountains are R.C. Sproul, John Piper, James Boice, etc. Though I am not a pastor, I (like most people) fall into the rain barrel category, and even on a blog, my thoughts seem to be inspired from somewhere else.
With that long intro out of the way, my thoughts this week have been gravitating toward interaction with and “rain barreling” of John Owen in his work Communion with the Triune God. Owen talks about the bounty of love and grace Jesus Christ evidences to his saints. For example, Christ gives an abundance of pardon, an abundant richness of the Holy Spirit, an abundance of grace, and an abundance of life. In a way, we are to “rain barrel” the abundance that Christ shows to us, and respond in obedience and love to Him.
What can I, a sinful man, do in response to such bounty from a holy, merciful Saviour? One way is striving for holiness. We are commanded to obey our Lord and King with love – “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 15:14). A second way is to produce fruits of holiness – “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). The first response has its roots in the heart; the second manifests itself in outward actions stemming from a regenerate heart that strives after holiness.
Our regeneration and justification should continually affect us as we continue to live for Christ. We must always press on toward the goal (Phil. 3) to be more dutiful, loving, obedient, and fruitful to Jesus Christ. I was challenged to examine my heart and motives. Am I putting Christ first in everything? Do I follow his commands and strive toward holiness out of loving obedience to him? How do I think and act differently than the world? Am I putting my faith, trust, and love to Christ first and not to the world? I find these issues a daily struggle and I need to ask daily for God’s grace and forgiveness.