“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Example II

In the last post I spoke of being an example to the congregation in our dealing with the things relating to others. In this post I would like to think about what type of example we are as it relates to God.

There has been much argument, discussion, and posturing on the topics of dress, language and attitude behind the pulpit. And I have posted several times to state my disagreement with pastors who feel that gutter language, sloppy dress and casual attitudes somehow make them 'relevant'.

I am not a prude, believing that somehow we return to the glorious 'yesteryear' of society, having preachers in full suits, and everyone putting on a front at church. At our church, I don't wear a suit to preach, and I don't speak King James English. But, I try to be an example to the people who attend as regards God.

I wear clothes that are not:

(1) Distracting - For example, T-shirts with all sorts of stupid phrases non them.

(2) Sloppy/torn/dirty

(3) Age/Position Inappropriate - I am not eighteen, why would I dress that way?

Now - you may be saying, "That's fine for you, but you don't understand the make-up of our congregation". Well, you do not know the make-up of ours. We have bikers, semi-homeless, poor, handicapped, 'regular-joes', older people (the oldest is 75), younger people, and everything in between. We meet in a strip mall, between a country and western bar, and a Mexican restaurant.

Now, this is not about clothing -- that is the mistake made when discussing this subject. No, this is about attitude, and example. I find it interesting that when a 'pastor' goes out for a job interview, (this may not be universally true, but in my experience I have seen it), he will wear a suit, but the minute he gets into the pulpit, after having secured the job, he is dressed in cutoffs and a stupid T-shirt.

What statement does that make? Well, that he will wear a suit in order to impress the men who hold the keys to a position in the church, but when it comes to standing before God, whatever he pulls out is fine. Again, this is not about clothing. We could make this observation about clothing, language, actions etc.

What example we are setting when we act like a fool behind the pulpit? Are we not denigrating the Holiness and Transcendence of God? Are we not treating Him like just another person? Why is it that a pastor will act appropriately when interviewing, or being honored at an event, but then he will turn around and act foolishly when standing before God?

Pastors need to reread Isaiah 6, or Revelation 1. These men, when confronted by a Holy, Transcendent God were on their faces before Him. This is about something far greater than language or clothing, it is about (as Aretha says) R-E-S-P-E-C-T! When we disrespect God in our actions, we teach our people to be cavalier in their relationship with God. There is nothing special about teaching people to be casual in their approach to God -- the entire world does that, there is something that sets Christians apart as pertains to their approach to God! It is done with respect, and a holy awe that recognizes God's holiness.

Some would say " I am the way I am all the time, I have sown God into my life", and hence they say that they are more 'real' than the 'phony' pastors (who, by the way, are any pastors that disagree with them). I would say, rather than sowing God into our life, we are called to sow our lives into God. This will cause a change, we will approach the pulpit in an altogether different way. We will revere the Word of God, and actually use it for more than a jumping off point. We will honor the sacred desk, not dressing to be distracting or cool, but to be unnoticed as we read the word. We will keep in mind that we are to refrain from filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking [Ephesians 5], and keep our discussion to God and His Word.

When we do anything different, we are being examples to the congregation -- sadly, we are being bad ones! Let us, as pastors, return to the role that we have been called, if in fact you have been called, and leave behind the entertainment, cult-personality driven attitudes that have so enfeebled many a pulpit.

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