Rod Barks

Jones and Gomez: two radically different ministers

Perusing the recent spiritual landscape makes me mutter with Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

The epitome of the latter is Pastor Terry Jones, leader of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. His ill-considered and ultimately failed “International Burn a Koran Day” drew worldwide criticism – and rightly so. Raw impudence such as his is ugly and deserves to be resisted. Anything less would be foolishness.

Now, I disagree with Islamic fundamentalism; that is my right, and a product of my Christian belief that Jesus is the way to my (our) relationship with God and, ultimately, Heaven. However, at no time did Jesus instruct followers to burn the books of other belief-adherent. Instead, He armed followers with the unlikely weapons of lavish love and unflinching faithfulness.

Can you imagine Immanuel announcing to His followers, “You will be known by your love…but if that doesn’t work, burn their books. Yes, that’ll show ‘em.”

Jones has backed down. Good. Such behavior has no place in the ranks of Christian ministry.

Consider in contrast a genuine light shining in the darkness – this darkness nearly one kilometre beneath the face of the Earth, where 33 Chilean miners have been trapped since Aug. 5.

The miners have each taken on roles within the underground world, naming a priest, a doctor, a poet, a television presenter and a foreman within the group. If Jones is the picture of foolishness, my underground pastoral colleague is the portrait of wisdom.

His name is Mario Gomez. According to news reports he has taken on the role of spiritual leader and urges the men to pray daily in the makeshift chapel he has created in a corner of the subterranean chamber. His job is aided by 33 mini-Bibles lowered into the mine with the daily supplies of food and medicine.

Gomez’s parish is tiny, but his ministry is monumental. He whispers encouragement in the midst of despair. He speaks of hope in the face of disaster. He calls to prayer as questions persist. He reminds parishioners that the presence of God extends even to the bowels of the Earth.

Such is the labor of a genuine minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; one who innately understands that faith is not proven in the burning of Korans, but rather in one’s persistence in the face of adversity.

A grandstanding manipulative pastor stands on a manicured church lawn, adorned in suit and tie, performing interviews and demanding his brand of justice. Meanwhile, a humble miner kneels in a shadowed sepulcher – made sacred by faith – leading grime-covered congregants in worship.

The comparative faces of ministry are extremely different. Jones revels in foolishness and anger while Gomez chooses the way of wisdom and peace. Both profess to represent Christ, but one alone receives the nod of affirmation from the Master who announces via St. Paul, “God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’.” (1 Corinthians 1:27 – The Message)

I have the feeling one of those God-chosen “nobodies” is Gomez. I’ll let God determine which category Jones fits into – but I have my suspicions.

Rod Barks is a Saskatchewan pastor and can be reached at highwaysconnect@hotmail.com

Just Posted

On the run with Melissa Ray

Red Deer runner talks about her intense running experiences

Celebrate ‘Alberta Culture Days’ here in Red Deer

Lots of family-friendly activities set for this coming weekend

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after truck collides with pub

RCMP are investigating the incident as an impaired driving collision

CATena offers glimpse into Central Alberta Theatre’s new season

Visitors can also check out Memorial Centre refurbishments

Crews respond to diesel spill in Penhold

Individuals transferred diesel from one truck to the other

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Appeal pipeline decision but consult Indigenous communities, Scheer says

The federal appeals court halted the Trans Mountain expansion last month

‘I’ll never forgive you:’ Victim impact statements at hearing for Calgary killer

Curtis Healy was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Man accused of mailing bomb to his brother in B.C. has died

Leon Nepper was found in ‘medical distress’ at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on Sunday

Most Read