Friday, August 08, 2014
Being A Pastor
I’m sad to confess how foreign this sounds to me, even after decades of ministry. Rarely have I heard congregational worship, bringing our offerings, caring for the poor, Christian love for one another, and the pastor’s daily work brought together like this and commended as a habitual pattern. Justin Martyr’s description and Lathrop’s appeal to it reflect a church experience that I have rarely witnessed in our culture, especially in the evangelical and Protestant churches of which I’ve been a part.I agree with this wholeheartedly, but I must add some warnings. "The poor" can be poor in a lot of things and there are many gifts to bestow. Yes absolutely we must care for those with less than us materially - but people are poor in so many ways, not just materially. We cannot let our rush to care for the materially poor push aside our efforts to help other forms of poverty.
Often we let our rush to care for the materially poor serve as a distraction not only from other forms of poverty but from the examination of our own poverty in other ways. We cannot let others material impoverishment blind us to our own sin, which is a very real form of impoverishment. We cannot let our own material wealth blind us to our desperate need for God.
I agree with Mike's lament concerning modern Evangelical and Protestant circles, but I think the question is not necessarily one of failing to help the materially impoverished, I think it is one of unwillingness to look at unpleasantness whether that is material impoverishment or the sin that hides deep in our souls.