Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Request Discussion 2 - A Scoundrel Was Sent

So - here was the second request - "Also, since call day was recent, what does it mean when the Divine Call yields a scoundrel for a pastor?"

This is not a good thing... but I will contend this. God can use even this to teach, to instruct His people. I'm not going to assume that this is punishment from above, or something like that - but rather approach with two verses in mind.

1. Who sinned that this man was born blind... Neither, it was given so that you might repent.
2. All things work for the good (note, present tense... not will work out in the long run for good) of those that love him.

In this there will be a call to repentance, and also blessing.

I'll answer this twice, because there are two sorts of Scoundrels that we run across - the moral scoundrel and the doctrinal scoundrel.

A. The Moral Scoundrel

So, let us say that the new pastor (from the Sem or otherwise) shows up, and he falls into some great shame or vice. What does this mean?

1. Object Lesson. This ends up being an object lesson. Sometimes religious leaders end up being cautionary tales. Not a easy lesson to learn (or teach), but in this case, the sins of a pastor work as a warning to us. Some like to use the term "teachable moment" - well, this would be done. Especially because the pastor won't get away with things that might be sloughed off in other settings... adultery doesn't get you canned in many jobs -- but here you could get a concrete example that adultery is BAD.

2. Patience. Return to being patient about having your parish filled. Perhaps this is something that the congregation needs to learn.

B. The Theological Scoundrel

1. The Test of the Faithful - Divisions make the truth known. This stinks on ice, and I don't like seeing it, but this is something that happens. One who teaches falsely does make a congregation to think about and ponder the truth. Granted, this is tumultuous, but our faith is sharped and honed by the heretics.

2. We get this for our neighbor's sake - one of the things that I think we need to remember, especially in the face of difficulty, is that God does not test us beyond what we can bear. Thus, the congregation that faces this trial would need to answer the question of "why me?" needs to think this way -- because we can handle this and endure it better than another, so for the sake of that weaker congregation, God has allowed us to bear this trial.

Again, any difficulty, any trial, any suffering is an opportunity to bear witness to the truth, to be a blessing and a positive example to your neighbor. Again, our egocentric, selfish nature doesn't realize this - but everything, everything that happens to us in this world is for the sake of the neighbor. If I have talents, it if for the sake of my neighbor. If I have wealth, it is for the sake of my neighbor. And if I suffer - I suffer for the sake of my neighbor (so long as I am not suffering for sin... but even then, if I am punished for my sin, that too is for my neighbor).

Likewise, if a congregation receives this most unfavorable chance to demonstrate the faith -- it is suffering, but it is suffering and a sign of faithfulness for the benefit of others.

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Of course, the third option is this: What if the congregation receives a theological scoundrel... and they like it?

This is tragic, this is horrid - but even this is a blessing for the remnant that are faithful, for it hones them, and perhaps it makes them flee to where they may rest safely. All things, all things work for the good of the faithful. Perhaps not the good we seek, but all things.

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