Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Deal Gently with the Ignorant and Wayward.

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. [2] He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. [3] Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. [4] 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.


Brigitte said...

I appreciate how you keep bringing these things out. I even had to cry a little bit about that,-- but then I've been mushy all day.

Last night I went to the first griefshare session and this morning I went through some of their materials. I really don't know if one has to do this. (You must allow yourself to mourn, or else.)

All besides the point.

Also besides the point: I just wanted to show how the new Bavarian hymnal I bought this summer has an "oe" for ecumencial besides every hymn that is also in the RC hymn book. Posting a picture, this very minute.

Bror Erickson said...

You mushy? I don't believe it.
Well I'm glad you appreciate what I do. Thanks.

Brigitte said...

I'm sorry. That wasn't terribly constructive.

There were many things that came crowding in.

One thing I remember vividly from service in Tooele is how you provided a great long pause for reflection on our sins and how you yourself came around the kneel for it. And you always talk about how you need forgiveness yourself and announce it where ever you can. Self included. And then warn of the pharisee who rears his head. It is really surprising how little one hears about this in other places. My last pastor just rushed through this place as if it were not there.

"We see the law as some sort of life line that will keep our pride intact. A humble and contrite spirit we will not have." That's us alright.

And then there are all the horrible times, when people have caused the most unimaginable pain to others by the way they talk. I feel I've been stabbed in the back several times in the most inappropriate ways, but I have also been bitter and angry and selfish and talking stupidly. James was right about the tongue. The word is so powerful, as we always say, even our own words. I will apologize to someone.

I also remember the song we sang before the sermon, it was also a prayer for the preacher. It was new to us. What number was it. Very appropriate.

"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."

I don't know what to add to that. It speaks to all of us.

It is perhaps again a matter of contentment. The people in your life are the people in your life and they are who they are with gifts and foibles, and fellow Christians are some of the ones you might be the most ready to die for, like your family. Think before you talk. Love before you talk.

There is more, but I quit. :)

Bror Erickson said...

thanks Brigitte,
Very constructive that.

Steve Martin said...

Was it 70 x 7?

I guess we really ought to forgive.

If someone is tearing apart your congregation...then that is another story.

Hey, Brigitte!

Hey, Bror!

(add the little noise that Goober made when he said "hey" on the Andy Griffith Show)

Nancy said...

Indeed forgiveness is a cornerstone for those of us who proclaim Christ, and an ark for those who would escape the carefully laid plans of our arch enemy! It is not against flesh and blood that we war, but spiritual darkness and the grasp of the grave! A Great Light has come into the world bringing life everlasting, through forgiveness and reconciliation!