Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Pastor's Great Temptation

The great temptation that a pastor faces in the temptation to "fix" things.

We think that with our knowledge and skill and experience, we can fix various things. People, congregations, synods, the state, the world. And we can fix all these things if only people would do what I say.

That is the temptation in the garden. Do this, and you will be able to know both good and evil, you will be in control and authority. You will fix all things.

It is not our job it fix things. We receive them as gift - gifts to love and cherish and serve, but not fix. Not change and alter to fit our purpose and whim. 

Pastors, consider your own congregation. There are practices and customs here that you have inherited that you do not like.  Me too.  Now, if I am convinced that I must "fix" them, I will mess with the problem regardless of who doesn't like it. Now, there aren't some cases where that would be necessary - If they hadn't used Doritos and Coca-cola for the Supper, they wouldn't any more. But things and practices that aren't my cup of tea, or are less than "ideal" (according to my definition of ideal)... not my job to "fix" them.  Instead, I am to receive them as gift, and then proclaim the gifts of Christ to them.

I'm not to "fix" my wife... perhaps the things that annoy me most are in fact great gifts to me from God (who in fact gave me this specific woman and gave me unto her) in order to break my own sinful, selfish pride.  Is she gift whom I am to cherish as utterly precious, or is she a project that I need to work on via manipulation? Only one approach can dominate, and I hope it's the former.

Our temptations to fix people change the way we view them, and puts us into a position of Lording instead of a position of service. And the most insidious part is we will tangentially hold on to the Word when doing this. We will start adding "therefores" where there is no therefore in Scripture. One therefore perhaps is still in keeping with the Scriptures.... but when another is added, then another, you are no longer speaking the Word but rather your own logic.

We see the unscriptural nature of these chains when someone tries to throw out a "fix" that we dislike... but we are tempted to excuse and ignore our own. Because we like our own fixes, and we think if we can tie them into the Scriptures, however tangentially, that it makes them right.

It doesn't.

Let God be the judge. You proclaim Law and Gospel - and the Holy Spirit will kill and make alive as He wills, when and where He wills.

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