I heard a good rumor the other day. Someone had talked to someone who said that I had been called into a committee and given 30 days to straighten up — whatever that means. I am happy to announce that the rumor was false. I have never been called into a committee meeting of any kind, nor have I ever been given an ultimatum of that sort. And I am very grateful for that. Every pastor finds himself at odds with individuals within the church. Something he says that they do not like. Something he does or doesn’t do that offends them. It happens, but I have been blessed to be able to handle those moments biblically for the most part. When Christians have issues with one another, they should talk through them, and if we do that, not only do we heal relationships, but also we demonstrate to the world what God’s grace is all about.
I’ve often wondered, though, why churches would risk everything to do this. And I mean risk everything — from destroying the church to risking their own lives (more on that in a minute). When the outside world sees that we cannot handle our own issues with grace, they certainly aren’t going to want to be part of the church, and many true Christians recognize that churches like this cannot possibly be in God’s will. Yes, I know that pastors and staff members have to be dismissed from time to time. Sadly, have been forced to dismiss a couple of staff members myself, but only after multiple efforts to reconcile people and repair the problems that led to the dismissal. Most of the time, when churches dismiss staff members for the right reason and in the right way, the church can move forward. However, if the church doesn’t do it for the right reasons and in the right ways, the church stumbles and falls.
Here is what I don’t understand — how people can so cavalierly risk everything because they don’t like the way a pastor preaches or the way he is trying to lead them. Let me say again that I am not writing this because of the way I have been treated. As far as I know, my job is not on the line, and that is a good thing because I know that I am doing exactly what God would have me to do. I pray constantly that if I am at fault or if I have sinned against Him or anyone in the church that He would reveal it to me so that I might confess to Him and to those offended by my actions. I know that my conscience and my “accounts” are clear. I also know that in times when pastors are under attack, the truth is not always what is on the mind of the attacker. Here is where the danger lies. God is a jealous God. There is a contemporary Christian song that continues to ring in my heart. One of the lines says, “He is jealous for me.” What an amazing thought — that God would be jealous for me. In our Bible reading this morning, Isaiah was talking about how God would take vengeance on those who wrongfully attack His people. Scripture warns the enemy not to lay a hand on God’s anointed and that any weapon formed against us will not stand.
I have seen it in my lifetime. People who commit the sin of attacking God’s man or woman and suffer the consequences. From health issues to financial difficulties to family problems. I often think of when Aaron and Miriam confronted Moses and God struck Miriam with leprosy. No, I am not comparing modern-day pastors with Moses, but the principle is very clear. If you are going to attack God’s man, you had better be sure you are on God’s side.
Well, that was on my heart today. Just as God is jealous for me, I am jealous for His Church, the Church universal, and know that we have just a short time left on this Earth to impact a world that is lost and dying and headed for hell. If we don’t get our acts together and start being the church, how many of our friends and family members will be part of that group? God, help us.