Religious Fashion Shows
(From Matthew 23 1-13 - The Message)
"Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. "The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.
"Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ’Doctor’ and ’Reverend.’
"Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ’Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them - Christ.
"Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty. "
I wish I had the courage to ask every pastor and get an honest answer for the following questions.
1. Have you ever preached on Matthew 23: 1-13?
2. Why is your name on the front church sign?
3. Why is it necessary for you to wear a robe up for Sunday services? (maybe only applies to Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Church of England)
4. Why is it important for you to be called Pastor (or Reverend or if you are Catholic... Father)?
5. Could you do your job without the titles, without the robes and without your name on the marquis?
6. Do you always practice what you preach... and when you don't... have you been caught by the ones you preach to? Care to share any stories?
7. Are there rules or practices in your church that you want to get rid of if you could ... but don't because your job would be on the line if you even dared to suggest it? If so... what are some?
8. Would you be doing something else for a profession... if you didn't feel like God asked (or called) you to do what you do?
9. Do you have any real friends in your workplace (your church)?
10. Can you be yourself with the people that call you Pastor?
If the truth be told...
I titled this blog... 10 questions that I wish I had the courage to ask members of the Clergy. If the truth be told...If I was "real" about my experience. I have asked on occasion a few of the questions. I find that when pastors get somewhat honest about some of these questions, it is outside of their clubhouse. I get the feeling that most pastors wouldn't be totally honest with the club members. It wouldn't seem to be good for job stability.
My heart goes out to pastors
I have friends that get their paycheck from the local clubhouse. I really feel for them and their challenges. I used to think it was necessary to have these men and sometimes women in a spiritual leadership position. I figure a lot of them are in their job because they feel they have to be, not because they truly want to be.
If I had to sum up the heart of the genuine pastor out there... I would say that he wants to make a difference, a change for the better, in his world. He has a genuine relationship with Jesus and want to share that joy with others. He want to feed the poor and clothe the naked and house the homeless. The real guy behind the job description doesn't want to serve himself... he chose that profession because he wants to give himself to something and Someone greater than himself.
But somewhere along the line...
the machine is bound to interfere and trip up anyone that gets in its way. The machine... the organization, the institution, the politics, the programs, the responsibilities, the expectations, the illusions, the doctrine, the rules and regulations... and the list may go on.
What is the problem?
For thousands of years, the sheep have been putting other sheep in charge of their souls.
But Jesus said:
"Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ’Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them - Christ."