Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pastor Wanted, Sinners Need Not Apply.

The Church that my family and I have attended for the past few years is currently looking for a new pastor. Some of what you will read here applies to that situation, the title and that particular sentiment do not. They are more general observations. I am, in fact, proud of the way the men that serve us as elders have handled the situation thus far and have confidence in their ability to hear God regarding his man for the job

Abraham, David, Moses, Noah, King Saul, Peter.. these are just a few of the colossally screwed up men that God has called into his service throughout history. Some of them recovered, more; crashed, burned and were never heard from again. Arguably the most successful revivalist of all time, Jonah, even had the nerve to complain that the God --who drug him from the belly of the whale and allowed him to lead the entire “Sin City” of his day into repentance-- did not provide the fireworks he had promised by destroying the wicked city with brimstone.

Abraham lied to a Pharaoh, claiming his wife was his sister and was called a Father of the faith. David was an adulterer and murderer whose own family was so dysfunctional, one of his sons raped his sister and David's inaction drove his son Absalom to rebel and attempt a coup. David was called a friend of God. His son Solomon is widely known as the wisest man that ever lived, and yet had no less than 700 wives and concubines and practiced pagan idol worship.

The Bible is made up of very human people who made horrendously bad decisions at all almost every turn. In fact it sometimes seems the only good choice they all hold in common was the decision to say yes to the call of God on their lives to fulfill a specific purpose in a specific season.

With a few notable exceptions, including Samuel and several Kings of Israel, it seems that God has intended to showcase his ability to work through individuals whose track records are less than stellar. Why? Why doesn't God choose a Righteous man and preserve him from childhood instead of a prophet like Elijah who calls down fire from heaven and then almost immediately sinks into a self destructive fit of depression? (and remember he was called to the mountain when Christ was transfigured) I can think of at least two reasons.

First, the only people I know are those who realize how deeply flawed they are, or those who are about to discover it painfully. The human condition is the reason that all of us, without the redeeming sacrifice of Christ, are destined for damnation. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God as a favorite verse goes.

Second, if there was such a person what would we immediately do? Enshrine him. Our attachment to this earthly plain is so strong, and our understanding of its transitory nature is so weak that anything that appears as perfection is immediately worshiped. (By the way, we Christians would never “idolize” or “worship” a man, but we sure build pedestals so we can “look up” to them)

God needs us to recognize his position. This allows us to submit our wills to him so that he can work through us. Anyone that comes between us and God confuses us. It is so much easier to relate to a man who we can knock down off his pedestal once he know longer serves us. This need for human leadership, rather than a Father son relationship with God is what drove the children of Israel to ask for a king, and is, I believe, the reason that we have created the edifice of “Pastor”--a word, ironically, only used once in the New Testament in reference to anything other than a group of leaders, also known as elders—to serve as a defacto priest and dispense God's wisdom.

So, what, you ask, am I suggesting? That we do away with the professional ministry and let the spiritual anarchy ensue? Nothing quite as radical as that. I merely suggest that they, like us, are human and prone to the same temptations, weaknesses and problems that we all face. This should serve as a reason to protect and hold these men up, not as examples to be discarded when they fail, but as teachers who give up their lives to study and pray and hold the hands of the sick and dying and put everyone before themselves, as we all should, to lead us into the presence of God as brothers.

Next time that you begin to feel that your pastors, or spiritual leaders, are unapproachable and on another plane, find a way to reach out. More likely than not you will find a sometimes lonely, sometimes hurting, sometimes guilt ridden, sometimes joyous, sometimes triumphant, scared, faithful, confused, inspired, loving, impatient, kind, selfish, giving ball of humanity who probably feels that true friends who understand that he is just a man who loves Jesus the best he knows how, are too few and far between.


No comments: