Seminary Viewpoints

Ministry Begins with Knowing and Loving God

March 12, 2019
Video Interviews

Neal Cushman: Dr. Kevin Bauder teaches theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s teaching a doctoral ministry class in the seminary called “Knowing and Loving God.” We’ve been looking forward to this class for a long time, and I know that the guys are enjoying the class very much. It’s an opportunity to talk about your relationship with God, and I just wonder if you could give us kind of an overview answer to the question “Why is this topic crucial for pastors today?”

Kevin Bauder: My impression is that most of our churches are not terribly concerned with either knowing or loving God. Most of our churches–I think most of our church members–are more concerned, if anything, about getting busy for God. I think that’s kind of getting hold of the wrong end of the stick; knowing God and loving God ought to be the motivation for our service for God rather than the other way around. Really, if you think about it, we have a lawyer who comes to Jesus, and he says to Jesus, ‘What is the great commandment?” or “What is the first commandment?” Not first in point of time, but first in order of priority. And Jesus’ response is the first commandment–that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That’s the sum and substance of what ultimate obedience looks like–that we should love God. Neal, none of us have arrived there yet, and the closer we can get, the better off we’re going to be.

Cushman: I just think about, you know, how challenging it is to do ministry and all the responsibilities and the expectations that people have for us in our congregations. I can see personally how it’s easy to lose sight of the true goal. I think this is a really helpful challenge, and I wish I was in your class.

Bauder: Well, we’re busy all the time about the Lord’s work, and we ought to be. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with serving the Lord, but if we’re not serving the Lord for the right reasons then our busyness really becomes–is it bad if I use the word “legalism?” You know there is hard legalism, which is obeying rules and regulations to get saved, but then there’s another kind of legalism, which is just doing stuff for God so God will think better of you. I think that where a lot of our people live. They don’t realize that what God wants most is that we should know him and love him. It begins with God.

Cushman: Well said. Thank you.