The Importance of Mentors: a Reflection on Hebrews 13:8
Mark Galli was the associate pastor at my home church in Fresno when I was growing up. Now the editor of Christianity Today, Mark wrote Jesus Mean and Wild. In the book, Mark references an interview in 1994 with Stephen Prothero. Prothero said,
Christians traditionally, as they’ve shaped Jesus, have been worried about getting it wrong, including the Puritans. Americans today are not so worried. There isn’t the sense that this is a life-and-death matter, that you don’t want to mess with divinity. There’s a freedom and even a playfulness that Americans have…. The flexibility our Jesus exhibits is unprecedented. There’s a Gumby-like quality to Jesus in the United States. Even turning Jesus into a friend among… Christians—that kind of chutzpah is something that was unknown even to Americans in the Colonial period.
Mentors in our lives are so important. We learn so much from them; good and bad. I am grateful for so many in my life. But today, I am thankful for Grandview Presbyterian Church, particularly the session, Kim Strutt, Henry Greene, the congregation, and the college-aged young adults I had the privilege to serve, love, and learn from during the years 1979-1981. My life was severely broken then, and I really had no comprehension of the depth of my brokenness, even though I had many skills and competencies that contributed to my success as one of Grandview’s interns.
Grandview Presbyterian Church was used by God to begin the process of saving me from myself, because of its unashamed gratitude for and commitment to the One who loves humanity and creation the most…Jesus Christ. It is true that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 is dependent on verse 7, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can connect to mentors and be mentors.
Jesus saved me with his electing choice before the foundation of the earth was laid; he knew me before I was birthed from my parents; Jesus wooed me to himself when I surrendered to him in communicant’s class as a 13 year-old; Jesus called me to the gospel ministry, gave me Janet, our three children, and four-grandchildren; he has guided me and walked with me through every valley, on every mountain top, and through everything in-between; and Jesus exposed me to my arrogance, self-righteousness, pharisaical tendencies, and obsession with image management. Jesus loved me when I was unlovable. I attempted to shape Jesus in my image, but the Jesus that was, is, and is to come; the Jesus that is the same yesterday, today, and forever, would have none of that.
And Jesus will have none of that with each and every one of us. Nor will he with his Church. Let’s get serious about our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Therein lies the dynamism of the Christian faith and our experience with God and one another. Let us be about loving God and loving others.
Mark Galli, Jesus Mean and Wild (Baker, 2006), 16.