Who do you worship under that is an infallible person? I made the mistake years ago of having very unrealistic expectations of people in ministry! I realize now they are just like me, a sinner saved by grace. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And 1 Timothy 1:15, “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
I believe if you ask anyone in ministry they would say both of these Scriptures apply to them. In my younger adult years I put them on a pedestal and somehow I believed, because they were in the pulpit, they were free of sin. Not true! Sometimes we can even hear their sin from the pulpit or maybe they misrepresent Scripture. Not good, a sin for sure, but I know that as a disciple of Christ I have done the same thing. Maybe you see their sin when they are not in the pulpit? And you think, “Wow!” But remember, they are imperfect people in need of a Savior as well. It has made me realize, yes, they have been called to minister but it didn’t put them in the “sin free” line-up. I have repented and it has driven me to study Scripture more and know it for myself and allow God to reveal to me “His Word”.
I believe everyone who knows Christ is called to be a minister/disciple as stated in Mark 16:15, “As he said, ‘Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole of creation.'” Sometimes we fall very short in that category. Leaving it up to ministers to do it all. I believe no minister ever wanted or invited the “expectation from me that they were infallible”. In the “Back 9” of life, I feel very different and look at people in ministry very differently than I did in my younger years. I am now going to attempt to explain.
First, I believe we are all called to be “ministers” of God’s Word as stated in the Scripture found in Mark. I also wonder, if I were on TV as a minister, and “cast into the public eye,” how would people judge and scrutinize every word I speak? Every word I write? My check book? The car I drive? Where I spend my disposable income? My calendar? My daily life? What I wore? What my husband did? What my kids did? People who take a step of faith to share Christ are not perfect people! Of course Scripture states in James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
God will judge them, not me! There are false prophets in the world. The Bible teaches that there will be such. But it also warns us not to judge! As stated clearly in Matthew 7:2-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I see congregations on TV that are full and overflowing. If I believe God is in control and allowing someone to preach, even if they aren’t doing or saying what I think they should be saying, are they wrong? I believe that in order to make an accurate assessment I would need to go to their church and experience all of what they promote before I decide if their ministry is for me or not. Should I believe everything I read about them? No! I have lived long enough now to absolutely know I shouldn’t believe everything I read or hear! Also, I know this for sure, the more you do for Christ the more you will be RIDICULED AND PERSECUTED! That is Biblical too as found in 2 Timothy 3:12, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” And in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
What about the minister who says the right things in the pulpit on TV and is 50 pounds overweight? Should I reject him because Scripture addresses obesity? Criticize him? What about the minister who is divorced? There is a very popular minister on TV who I love to learn from and he is divorced. Do I know his circumstances? NO! Is he still effective for Christ? Yes, his teaching has caused me to grow by leaps and bounds. What about the minister on TV who consistently offers hope and encouragement? Maybe, just maybe, there is someone watching who needs “HOPE and ENCOURAGEMENT”? IN their lives all they have heard is negativity and hopelessness. Could God use that pastor to Draw them to Christ? To some “Christians” the message may be spiritual milk. Mature Christians who have studied Scripture longer, and maybe were raised in a Christian home, are on spiritual meat. They look at such hopeful messages as bordering on misrepresenting Scripture because Scripture also teaches about hardship.
The older I get the more I see that everyone hasn’t been raised as I was. They look at the world and interpret the world through a different set of eyes because of their experiences. It takes different messages and different people. God uses THEM ALL to accomplish HIS PURPOSE. After all, I believe He has allowed it and if someone’s motives are impure, HE still can use HIS words to reach people regardless of the “messenger!” I encourage anyone reading this journal that questions what they hear from the pulpit to dive into Scripture. Use the opportunity to dig deeper themselves and let God reveal His word to them. This has taken me to new places with God spiritually. Knowing and studying His word myself. That is God’s desire for all of us. He desires to speak and reveal to us personally HIS WRITTEN WORD.
Don’t get me wrong. We should all use discernment when listening to someone speak or when reading a book about Scripture. We do need to be sure that what we are taking in is true to God’s Word. We do need to be aware of false prophets. And things like obesity, divorce, and too many happy sermons can detract from or distract people from the gospel. My point here is that we seem to spend a lot of time being overly critical of those trying to minister to others and not seeing the log in our own eyes. Maybe we should spend the time studying Scripture for ourselves and intentionally spend more time sharing the truth of God’s love and forgiveness to others? And, when in doubt, instead of criticizing and making judgments based just on what we see on TV or what we read, let’s go and see for ourselves, and/or go directly to the source with an email or letter relaying our concerns.
Consider….Peter in the Bible! He walked with Jesus on earth. He experienced many miracles and he was even an eyewitness to Jesus being arrested right before his crucifixion. He tried to defend Jesus with his actions by cutting off an ear of one of the arresting officers. A few days later he denied Jesus, not once, but THREE TIMES!! If this had been on Fox News or CNN, I wonder how many Christians would have had a different view of Peter????