Monday, April 20, 2015
Helping Pastors Tied to the Whipping Post
Some pastors, elders, deacons, church members, denominations, and other ecclesiastical ghetto-dwellers seem determined to do their worst to repel people from Jesus by the lack of Jesus in their lives that convinces people who really need Jesus - Everybody! - that they don't want Jesus to do for them what the ghetto-dwellers boast He's done for them.
"If that's what Jesus does for yu'uns," they say, "we don't want any part of Him because we don't want any part of you because we don't want to be like you."
Why would anyone who really needs Jesus want to hang out with people who say they know Jesus while acting so horrifically avec each other?
Ecclesiastical ghetto-dwellers are notorious for gossip, lies, back-stabbing, fights, divisions, denominational pride/arrogance, shooting their wounded, unforgiveness, angers, hatreds, spending so much money on antependia and vestimentum and other useless ornaments in spitting distance of the poor in direct contradiction to Matthew 23 and 25, and other selfishly motivated polemics sooooooo antithetical to Jesus by the book.
People who are close to Jesus have character traits, more than less, akin to Galatians 5:22, Philippians 2:3-4, and...
It not, not.
I think of the little boy who asked his mommy what they were having for dinner after church.
She said, "The pastor."
Speaking of pastors, I'm especially concerned about the young ones who are being eaten alive by churches whose connection to Jesus is only coincidental.
Annnnnnnd I'm concerned about geezer pastors like me and denominational whatevers that don't seem to give a ___ about how they're being eaten alive.
Annnnnnnd how do we know geezer pastors like me and denominational whatevers don't really give a ___ about how the rookies are being eaten alive by churches whose connection to Jesus is only coincidental?
They're not doing a heaven thing to stop it!
Annnnnnnd as those geezer pastors like me and denominational whatevers boast about their invitational, inclusive, welcoming, and agapeish whatevers, it might not be a bad idea, by why of convincing example, to do something for heaven's sake about it to maybe, again, by way of example, show those who really need Jesus - Everybody! - that He can really, really, really, existentially as well as eternally, make a positive, peaceful, unifying, and redemptive difference.
A recent exchange with a peer comes to mind.
He began, "I have to laugh sometimes when I read your stuff; especially when you write about people who hate you in a Christian kinda way...I resonate with that. Yet, after ___ years, many of them have given up and gone elsewhere; although there are still one or two hanging around to zing darts at me...My first ___ years were a living hell...Every now and then, I see someone who's left the church in the ___ years since I arrived. They say things to intentionally hurt me, like, 'I'll come back after you have moved on.' I'm tempted to say, 'I'm still here and I'm going to stay to make sure you don't come back!'"
Continuing, "That's not why I'm writing...When you got up at the end of the meeting, I thought, 'Oh no, Bob, please sit down so we can all go home.' Then I listened to what you had to say about how we aren't really doing anything to help our young pastors in trouble and was glad you spoke."
He asked, "What can we do about it?...Some church members are just plain mean. They are, as you put it, posers and pretenders..."
Getting to the issue, "Our young pastors are so starry-eyed and idealistic...How do we toughen them up without making them cynical? What can we do for them?...Over the years, I have had to face some very nasty people who wanted their own way no matter what...A couple of those fights almost killed me. What can we really do to help?"
He concluded, "Maybe some are not really called into pastoral ministry. We know that by the numbers who are quitting. But maybe some wouldn't quit if we helped them. Lord knows it isn't going to stop anytime soon. I fear it will only get worse. What do you suggest?"
"While I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus by the book after too many years of going with the ecclesiastical flow in contrast to the red letters with particular note of Matthew 15 and 23, part of my rebirthing has included an authentically increasing grief generating passion to care for the victims of so many irregulars, irascibles, irreconcilables, and other miscreants in local churches who go unchecked as they bruise, beat, batter, and butcher other members and their undershepherds while those who could do something mutter, 'Well, preachers come and go but...'
Certainly, I am not an expert on this; but I have reached some conclusions:
1. We will spend a lot longer time with Jesus than anybody else; so we may as well try to honor Him more than others;
2. We're 'damned if we do and damned if we don't' and, knowing that, we are liberated to pray and labor to sow, salt, shine, and, depending upon His graces to overcome our sins, be the 'good' leaven mixing in to make better. If we're going to catch everything but heaven regardless, we may as well give 'em the Gospel according to Jesus by the book while remaining eager to be corrected by Jesus, the Bible, and common sense;
3. We've gotta take Matthew 25 seriously; and be willing to look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Him for others as for Him even if we catch hell for it;
4. We've gotta love enough not to be liked; telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth while remaining eager to be corrected by Jesus, the Bible, and common sense;
5. Bravehearts not fainthearts ministering in an Actsual kinda way is our call or, as you suggest, we are not called. We are not, to borrow a line from Dylan, 'errand boys for the wandering desires' of people, churches, denominations, government, and so on. We are not called to agree with the last person that we've talked to like bad sentences ending in prepositions. We are supposed to be His always with everybody;
6. While we'd like to win and bring all of the miscreants to discipline and care for the wounded, it must be enough for us to tell the truth as we see it while remaining eager to be corrected by...;
7. We must sacrifice. It is nauseating, especially at clergy meetings, to hear how we're caring for the people over there or the marginalized over here and there and how our witness to the oppressed and blah, blah, blah...while we wink at the young pastors and church members who are suffering right here! Maybe it's time for judicatories to act like bishops! Maybe some churches should not be allowed to pick pastors of their choosing! Maybe it's time to pass the hat for churches who can't pay their pastors! If we can pass the hat for people over there, why can't we pass the hat for people right here? I really think it's time for people like you and me to ___ on the parade every now and then and get up and say the emperor has not clothes and everything's not great and let's pick up the rug and see what's been swept under it and...
That's not a comprehensive assessment.
It's a start.
Finally, I think it's important to admit when we have made mistakes and ask forgiveness; and if other folks can't/won't forgive us, they need to turn in their clergy/Christian cards and admit they aren't in/with/through/for Him. Jesus said a lot about that. Churches and pastors and anyone else who likes to give up on each other and quit and hold grudges just might wanna consider the eternal consequences of their existential dissing, distancing, and divorcing. As Martha Young told me so long ago, 'You love 'em and let God judge 'em; but love 'em enough to tell 'em that God's comin' back to judge 'em!'
Maybe you and I can start raising a little heaven at presbytery meetings.
Maybe the moderator of our presbytery meetings better hold her/his breath when they ask for new or unfinished business."
I have read nothing about innocent bystanders in the book.
Blessings and Love!