Hebrews 5:1-4 (ESV)
For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.  Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.  And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
“He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.” What is said here of high priests is true also of pastors. We are beset with weaknesses. We are human like those we serve with God’s word. We need forgiveness as they need forgiveness. No we don’t offer sacrifices at all anymore not for us or others. At least we don’t offer the sacrifices that are spoken of here. Of course prayers are a form of sacrifice, and we have to pray for ourselves as well as others. We better be praying for ourselves, as we pray for others. This is a huge calling that God has put on us. We need to pray. A pastor not praying is setting himself up for disaster. PRAY, PASTORS, PRAY!
We can deal gently with the ignorant, and wayward. We can. There seems to be a bit of disparagement here in the way it says He can, as if Christ can’t because he isn’t set with the same weaknesses. I don’t know that that is the point. Preceding, in Chapter 4 we learned that Jesus is our High Priest, whom we can approach because he was tempted as we are. We ask him for Grace.
Not only can pastors deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, they probably should. Problem with pastors is they are sinners too, and all too often lose patience with their people. It can be frustrating. Which is why the pastor should be praying for himself, and for others.
I don’t know. I know a lot of pastors. At times I even sully my reputation by hanging out with these men, of whose skulls, Chrysostom says, pave the path to hell. It can turn into a complaint session very quickly, as pastors talk of their congregations, and people. “They like ‘The Old Rugged Cross”! and the room goes silent. Gasp, how dare they, they don’t know that it isn’t Lutheran! How can they like a non Lutheran Hymn! Well, I’ve been there too. People requesting non Lutheran hymns for the funeral etc. Sometimes I budge, sometimes I don’t suppose it depends on how bad the hymn is, and what kind of mood I’m in. But I really can’t blame them for liking a non Lutheran Hymn. It isn’t anything to get frustrated over. I bring that one up as a particularly memorable moment. I thought then, and I think today, don’t talk bad about your congregation, not even to other pastors when no one is around. They are God’s people, he has given them into your care. Love them, deal gently with them. Understand that you are no saint either, not in and of yourself you aren’t. It isn’t seemly. It’s like talking bad about your spouse or family. And venting the frustration doesn’t get it out, it just primes you for more frustration. Perhaps in the confines of confession there is room for venting some frustration, but that is about it in my opinion.
We can deal gently. We don’t need to excommunicate people because they don’t have Pieper memorized. They are people, and though on some levels everyone is a theologian, not everyone is a good theologian. Sometimes the Baptist that converts is going to revert to a previously held view, deal with it, but deal with it gently.
In some circles today, it seems that willingness to excommunicate has become some sort of badge of orthodoxy. That attitude needs to stop, and it should not be rewarded. Sometimes excommunication might be necessary. I’m not saying it isn’t. But I am boggled when I hear of pastors excommunicating people left and right. Is there no tolerance?
Christ forgives, so should we. No we don’t want to condone sin. We can’t do that as pastors, but we can forgive sin, and deal with the sinner gently.