In full disclosure, I’ve been guilty of this, especially as a pastor. When your pastor depends on your church for both job and housing, it forces him to walk a dangerous line. On the one hand, he must preach the truth. On the other hand, he cannot call out sin that might endanger his continued employment. He must make as many friends as possible when his position depends on keeping people satisfied. This does not apply to all churches, but if your church can fire a preacher and his family with a board vote, you might be one of them.
This does not mean that preachers ought to be boors. A Preacher ought to be pleasant to talk to and ought to be able to relate to people. Jesus was pleasant, but also spoke with authority. Jesus loves people, but he also loved them enough to address their sins. Jesus could do this without hypocrisy. We are not so good at it.
Caught between our own struggle with sin, we try to preach the truth to others about theirs. Yes. It is complicated. Jesus once said no one can serve two masters. A Preacher cannot serve the Lord and the Church. Let Him serve the Lord, and he will do what needs done in the church. But let him do so in love, for without it he become a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal, a loud noise with no meaning.
This verse brings up a few things for me today. If you’ve read this far you would be right in assuming these kinds of things happened to me a few times. I’m not perfect. Never have been. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have to. I know someone who does, and that’s enough. But I’ve seen a few things, been hurt by a few others. It still stings today whenever I’m asked if I pastor anywhere. Despite all I’ve been through, I miss it. I would gladly jump back in if given the opportunity.
But I’m also wiser now than I once was. I know more about people than I did when I was 22. I am not as polarized as I used to be. I know people act out of pain and grief and hurt. Evil doesn’t always wear the mask the devil. Sometimes it’s because that person was hurt years ago and they act out of their pain. Jesus could see that. He saw it in the woman at the well. He saw it in Pontius Pilate.
Well, that’s probably enough for today. Make it a good one.