Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Butt-Sitting, Bantering, and Moaning When Everything Is Going to Hell
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil
is that good men do nothing!"
"The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close
neighborhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so
successfully as on the very steps of the altar."
Demonic training in C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters
When I was ordained, a mentor sent this note to me:
"When you preach, give 'em the gospel!
That'll shock 'em...and save 'em!
That's what your call is about."
Do you remember Jimmy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart?
If you don't, google 'em for a quick reminder.
Anyway, they were really big in the 70s and early 80s until, uh, you know, they, uh, fell from their pedestals of pretended perfection erected by idolaters.
When Jimmy was caught with Jessica and the other Jimmy damned him before getting caught with a hooker in a no-tell-motel, lots of mainline denominational types rejoiced openly; because, well, uh, the ministries of the Jimmies were thriving while theirs were diving/descending/dying.
Mainliners were almost giddy about it.
I'll never forget a presbytery meeting in Kansas City when some guy couldn't resist poking fun at 'em.
Of course, that's the old speck-inspecting way; until, uh, we get caught with our pants down.
Religious people love to point out the sins of others; until, you know, they get caught with their logs out.
It brings to mind a Sunday morning congregational prayer: "And now our hearts go out for all of those pure and perfect newsmen pointing out the sins of others."
Getting back to the Jimmies and how too many relished their falls, I got up when the guy finished his report about something that I forget and said, "Well, I know Jimmy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart screwed up; but as we bask in their failures, I can't keep from saying, despite their humanity, how many more people that they've led to Jesus as Lord and Savior than any of us have. Come to think of it, I'll bet they've led more people to Jesus than our whole denomination in the last decade or so."
The silence was deafening.
The stares were unsettling.
A synod executive - that's kinda like an uber-bishop in our franchise - cornered me during a tinkle break and said, "Kopp, if you keep making comments like that, you're never going to get anywhere in our denomination."
I asked, "Did you say abomination?"
He didn't laugh.
It was another reminder that some folks are humorless; or, admittedly, think I am.
He remains right about me and the franchise.
I have more of a chance of becoming Rome's guy dressed in white than becoming...
When I was a really important senior pastor in really big churches in Kansas City and North Carolina long before I was anywhere near mature enough for the gigs as confirmed by my humanity, I was a part of a group of really important senior pastors.
I mean really important senior pastors of reaaaaaaallllllly big and important - spelled m-o-n-e-y - churches.
We met at least yearly to sit and talk about how bad things were becoming and how we should/could...
After a while, a few of us dropped out; because we knew none of us were really going to risk any of our perks and privileges by taking on the increasingly irretrievable apostasy under current management.
Essentially, we just butt-sat, bantered, and moaned about it.
Truth is, when we met, we had enough combined resources that we could have done something about it.
We didn't, again, because we did not want to risk our perks, pensions, privileges, and perches.
Sooooooo as Wyatt said to Billy in Easy Rider, "We blew it."
Truth is we were-maybe-still-are like most American Christians: "As long as I've got my six-pack and the Yankees are on the dope box..."
As long as we're safe, we ain't gonna risk...
I chair a committee in our presbytery.
Somebody who I really respect and really like just resigned because, well, uh, she/he is really, really, really busy.
I wrote: "I understand, friend; and reluctantly on behalf of the...accepted...It seems that able and caring saints like you are being asked to do more and more and more and...Again, I understand..."
Continuing: "Unfortunately, as we will increasingly though grudgingly acknowledge, the devolution and decline of our franchise means we have fewer and fewer and fewer horses for the races before us...My concern is we will return to just filling holes with whomever for whatever regardless of..."
Concluding: "That's just the way things are whether we like it or not...I will pray that our Lord releases unnecessary burdens and equips and encourages you for the necessary that has prompted this decision...Quickly, we are approaching the time when we will have to modify our immediate organizational structure and authoritative connections...The discretionary and obligatory are always in conflict..."
Signing off: "In short, reluctantly, I affirm your decision with affection and appreciation for your service."
Then I thought to myself: "If the good girls/guys keep dropping out..."
Now go back to the Burke quote, video, and other stuff at the top.
Question that I keep asking myself:
"What are you doing for Christ's sake?"
"Fulfill your ministry!...We each have different work to do.
We belong to each other and each needs all the others."
Blessings and Love!