I hate rejecting a comment! I would love to have an active dialogue with just about anyone, but there are some people who will only talk to you in order to hear their own voice. Their minds are made up and there is nothing you can do to change them. They joyfully use your blog as a way of promoting their own, usually off-beat, ideas.
I got a response to a blog post recently that rips on pastors and churches and calls on pastors to get out of Christ’s way. Well, of course I agree with that! But this person, who neglected to sign his name, meant that we should stop preaching and teaching. Is that the answer? I don’t think so. My goal is simply to let Jesus lead me.
What set this guy off was a reference I made to “his church,” meaning the pastor. He failed, as others also do, to realize that there is a possessive of inclusion as well as a possessive of ownership. Grammatically, I said that the pastor was part of the church; in the same way I might say that I visited “my mechanic” recently. I don’t own the mechanic or his shop. I am simply one of his customers and I look forward to continuing my patronage to him. Well, anyway, it gave this guy a chance to rant.
What concerned me was his closing remark: “Step down from YOUR pulpit and be a brother like everyone else, and stop using the Lord for personal gain.”
This is worth a post. I suppose I could remind the guy that “the laborer is worthy of his hire.” That’s from the Bible, you know. I could try to convince him that I, and many others, have been called by God into this role. There are a lot of things I could use to validate the pastor’s role in the life of the church, even as a paid professional. But all of these things would just feed his bitterness toward the elitism he sees in the church.
Instead, I would simply like to ask who doesn’t “use the Lord for personal gain?” There are people who claim that the message of the gospel should always be given freely, and I confess that I lean toward that myself. But isn’t all truth God’s truth? The pastor learns how to use the Scripture to encourage people. A doctor learns how to use medical knowledge to help people. A plumber learns how to use mechanical knowledge to help people. All are servants of the Lord, or at least the ones who believe are. The idea that paid pastors should not receive a wage for their time and effort is not all that different from the idea that only paid clergy are true servants of the Lord.
You see, if we believe that Jesus calls His people to different tasks and gifts them in different ways for His purpose, we eliminate both the elitism of the clergy and the mercenary aspect of the work they do. To suggest that a pastor is somehow spiritually better (or more important to the kingdom) than the car mechanic is wrong, but so is the idea that the pastor has no right to be fed through his work.
The Lord calls us, gifts us, and blesses us. All of our jobs are blessings from Him and all of our income is provided by Him. The sooner we understand that, the sooner we enjoy one of the most practical applications of the message of grace.