My Thoughts. . .
If you are a preacher, do you remember your excitement when that first congregation hired you? Everything was new. You had a lot of names to learn. There were shut-ins to visit. There were sick people to visit. Two sermons prepared each week was a necessity. Bible studies were necessary. Fellowship meals were a break and the congregation had some excellent cooks. The handshakes and back slapping came as people exited the building when worship was over. Do you remember that exact moment when a crack appeared in that rosy painting of yours?
Remember those illusive whispers that remained incognito because it was “some people have said”? You knew it was a problem when the phrase changed to “a lot of members are upset because. . .” Little things were blown out of proportion such as, “you aren’t using enough scripture,” or “you are not quoting scripture, you are just reading them.” Visits by some to your office were informational about the elders or some member. The admonition seemed to be rehearsed with, “Don’t mention my name, but. . .” or, “I don’t want to get involved, but you need to do something about. . .” Then you kept running into a wall each time you suggested something helpful to the elders. You knew it would produce astounding growth spurts in a short period of time if they would only be wise enough to accept it. Your suggestions were heard, then forgotten.
You noticed that those members with the biggest smile also had teeth for backbiting. It seemed that for each positive thought, there were always two negatives. The person you thought you could let your hair down with left you bald. So, you began looking for that congregation that you thought this one was. The string of moves continued as the moving van did its job. That “perfect” congregation was always illusive. You were not the first to experience disappointment.
When one is angry and upset with his elders or with some aspect of church life, it is because of the imperfections of life which visits each and all. In fact, those who complain the loudest usually make up that percentage of those who are involved in inconsistencies. Rather than being the solution to the congregation’s woes, they may be guilty of creating them. Sometimes those who want to lead the congregation into an amazing future are the ones who drown it in sorrows. The Bible is a history of inconsistencies owned and operated by God’s children throughout history. It is a malady suffered by all. Some just have lighter cases that others. Jesus himself dealt with it (John 1:11)!
Jesus’ first and only located work was to a congregation called Israel. His mission? To fulfill the prophecies in their scripture. He chose twelve men from different walks of life to work with him in that mission. Molding them into a productive preaching program sometimes brought disappointments. They were at each other’s throats and usually disappointed because he was not fitting their image of Israel’s Messiah. Oh, they had two swords, but shouldn’t there be one for each if they were going to drive the Romans out? Why wasn’t he making them into Generals rather than apostles? He kept talking about love your enemies. How can you love people who use the sword to rule, who do not respect your faith, and who have corrupted your priesthood? His miracles brought in hundreds if not thousands, but his teaching was not insurrection and civil disobedience. How can he fill the sandals as Israel’s Messiah if he will not wear the stars of a General? His army should have been shouting, “Fight, fight, fight,” but their screams were “Crucify him, crucify him.” The crowd’s victory was not in pushing the Romans out, but in silencing this “preacher” with the cross.
Mankind has two highways before it. One is smoothly paved with four-lanes. On each side it is cared for and beautiful. Take it and the world will lie at your feet. The other choice? It may hold disappointments. There may be cheering crowds, but not for you. There may be times when your eyes are filled with burning tears. You may be guilty of asking multiple times, “why?” Temptation may squeeze you tightly in compromise. Your proverbial back may have multiple stab wounds. Your imperfections will preach that God cannot love anyone like you, so give up, give in, and get out of the way. Being a Jesus follower may not bring worldly success nor popular recognition. It may not help you win the State Lottery. However, it will bring peace and contentment making your choice eternally worthwhile.