Reflections on J.I. Packer: Lasting in Ministry

Today we join the chorus of voices in the Christian blogging and online world that are paying tribute to the life of J.I. Packer.

When I heard of J.I.’s passing, tears filled my eyes — a mixture of grief at the loss of a faithful servant and joy that J.I. was, in that very moment, beholding the fullness of joy in the face of Jesus. Such is the bittersweet feeling of the passing of the faithful saints.

 

A Faithful Life

I never met J.I. Packer, but I read him extensively. I have been shaped as the pastor and, more importantly, the man I am today by his faithful work in his life and ministry.

One of the first books I read after I was saved was Knowing God. It trained me up in godliness, helped me to understand what it meant to honor the Lord, and broke down many of my misunderstandings about how I needed to live in light of God’s love for me — not earning God’s approval but living out of the fact that in Christ I already have it.

 

A Gracious Life

In one of the chapters in The Way of The Dragon or the Way of the Lamb, Jamin Goggin and Kyle Stroebel interview Packer. What was so vivid in my mind from the interview was that even in his physical frailty and depleted energy, he still oozed graciousness and kindness to his interviewers. That kind of disposition cannot be microwaved or manufactured but is built piece-by-piece over a lifetime of walking with Jesus.

 

A Lasting Legacy

There are few people who have impacted younger pastors and older pastors alike. Weakness is the Way is one of those works that shaped me, challenged me, and comforted me more than any other. It is in many ways a parting gift to a church that has lost its way. Packer whispers fresh again into my crowded mind, the foundation-shifting truth that all Christ requires of me was already graciously provided through the work of the Holy Spirit in me. And the paradoxical thinking that the more broken and weak I am the more powerfully the Lord works through me.

I pray that I would learn this in greater and greater measure until I meet J.I. in eternity.

It is wonderful to know that somewhere in the process of transition out of the body into the next world, Christ himself will meet us, so that we may expect his face to be the first thing we become aware of in that new order of life into which we have moved. – J.I. Packer (Weakness is the Way)

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. – Matthew 25.23

 


Photo Credit: Christianity Today

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