If you ask most people to describe a typical pastor, they’ll use words such as compassionate, caring, understanding and non-combative.
Rarely will you hear the words such as angry, combative, accusatory, and one who tells it like it is.
Why is that? I mean pastors and elders are mere men. We have feelings. We have points of view regarding current events. We have definite views regarding sin and misbehavior.
So why are so many not willing to use their pulpit, their bully pulpit, to call out sin – whether in current events, in government, or even by elected officials, or candidates and their conduct that clearly violates scripture?
These past few weeks have had my ire really going, and there have been people who’ve told me that i shouldn’t address the situations publicly. Why?
Well, first of all, most would like to be approachable. All pastors and elders would like to think that people can come to them for godly counsel, and we would. If this godly counsel however, would expose sin on the part of the one seeking counsel, many in our position wouldn’t want to be in a position to be pointing that out.
I know many a person that if their pastor pointed out their sin, they would have made different choices in their lives and even alleviated some painful consequences of their sinful behaviors. I know of instances where pastors failed to do this, and the person said they wished they had.
Of course, pastors and elders don’t want to be accused of judging another. They hear Don’t you judge me, or You can’t judge me! They use Matthew chapter 7 all the time.
The problem with this school of thought is that we are to be judging with righteous judgment. Jesus said in John 7:24, “Do not judge by appearances, but with right judgment.”
This means when we see blatant sin, we’re to call it out for what it is. Jesus did it all the time. The examples I use are in John chapters 4 and 8.
In chapter 4, we see the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus asks for a drink, and starts what turns into a theological discussion.
After Jesus tells her to go and get her husband – a clear setup, He then discloses that she had no husband – that she had five husbands and was shacking up with the guy she’s with now. He essentially told her (and all of us) that living together without the benefit of marriage is a sin.
She’s then told to go and sin no more. In other words, get into a committed relationship and get married. There are no test drives where this is concerned.
That had to be a convicting moment for her as she realized she was speaking with the Messiah, and went and told everyone of this man who “told her everything she’d done.”
Talk about repentance! She became the town evangelist – all because she was told of her sin.
In John chapter 8, we find the woman accused of adultery. Now this a clear setup by the Pharisees to trap Jesus in his words, to try to get Him in a blasphemous situation and to get Him into a situation of breaking Mosaic law.
The woman was caught red-handed in an adulterous situation, which called for punishment of death by stoning – of both parties. Take note that only the woman is brought for stoning, not the man – he was probably paid handsomely for his part in all of this and was more than likely in the crowd, ready to stone this woman.
When asked by the Pharisees what should be done with this woman, Jesus told them that “Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone.” There was a period of time before He said that where He was writing in the dirt. I’d like to think that He was writing names and listing sins of those present with rocks at the ready, because everyone dropped their rocks and walked away.
He then looked at the woman and asked her if there was anyone else there to convict her. She said no – and Jesus told her too, to go and sin no more.
Jesus, on these two occasions, and others as well, called out sin, and I’m sure that the recipients of such counsel and above all grace, made wiser choices in the future.
Jesus judged, with right judgment. He taught the disciples to do the same, and it teaches us how to judge rightly.
This gets me to the crux of today’s message.
I know why you don’t hear much of this from the pulpit.
First – the pastor doesn’t want to convict anyone, and thus turn anyone away.
This, in my eyes, and those of some pastors and elders I know, is utter nonsense. If a pastor holds this point of view, they need to get out of the pulpit.
A pastor should be preaching sermons that allow the Holy Spirit to move and convict those who need it. I’ve always said that if someone isn’t squirming in their seat during one of my sermons, then I’m not doing my job as a shepherd.
You see, I don’t worry if I offend or trigger someone, who may withhold their offering in retaliation, or say something nasty about me to others. If the Holy Ghost led me to preach that message, and someone got their shorts tied in a bunch over it, then it’s they who needs to do the repenting, right?
Second – the pastor is afraid to run afoul of regulations regarding political speech from the pulpit.
This too is nonsense.
Yes, I realize that in some countries in the world, this could lead to persecution and yes, even death. I believe that it was Jesus Himself who said, For whoever saves his life, will lose it – but whoever loses his life for My sake, will find it. (Matthew 16:25)
We’re to expect persecution. Jesus said it would come, and yes, some will lose their lives – many have already, just read any issue of Voice of the Martyrs magazine.
When Lyndon Johnson was a US Senator back in 1954, he came up with what is referred to the Johnson Amendment (to the then revision of the IRS code under consideration at that time). It prohibits all non-profit organizations in the United States organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, from publicly speaking out against a particular candidate for office.
Most churches in the United States are organized as 501(c)(3) non-profits. Why? It permits several benefits. Donors of tithes and offerings can deduct these contributions from their taxes each year. It also permits a pass-through for missions contributions directly to missionaries who may not be non-profit organizations or be domiciled in another countries. Donors can then write these contributions off as well.
This, and certain other income, as well as church property used for religious purposes are exempt from taxation. In many states, they’re don’t have to pay state sales faxes on purchases.
In return for this generous treatment, the church, it’s pastors and elders are essentially squelched by law from speaking out about a candidate’s position on, oh say, about the murder of the unborn for example.
The government also has the name and location of the church, it’s pastors and elders (officers and directors) on their annual 990 (non-profit) tax return form.
I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but persecution of the church, it’s pastors and elders has an easy entree right here.
Did they have a tax exemption for the first century church?
Did first century churchgoers get a tax write-off?
Give me a break! The answer is no! Acts clearly states that people gave freely. So should we, without any expectation of any benefit.
Jeannie and I give to several ministries, and I’ve asked them not to send receipts – but they do, because they must, by law. I throw them out. I don’t deduct these from our tax returns. This is the Lord’s money anyhow – it’s His, why should I be reaping a benefit from what’s His to begin with?
That’s called being a good steward of what He’s supplied to us.
The #Heb10 Church is not a 501(c)(3) organization. I, as pastor, pay my own professional and as of now, church related expenses. If someone affiliated with our church wanted to help out with church related expenses, they could, knowing in advance that there’s no tax benefit to it – that they are helping God’s work.
This also allows me, and any elder who may be named, to “name names” and preach freely regarding candidates, office holders or any government agency or activity or law, without fear of official reprisals.
Now, of course, this leads to peers who would criticize me for speaking out. Some already have, including in my own covering authority.
I understand their position, but it doesn’t concern me. Jesus tells us to speak boldly, and I will. Jesus told Pharisees exactly what He thought.
So did the apostles. Paul did it all the time.
If pastors and elders thought and preached more like James and Paul, there’d be a lot more accountability from our elected officials here in the United States. The Johnson Amendment was created to squelch accountability and to essentially shut us up.
The sooner churches realize this, the sooner we can start holding government accountable for its actions and decisions.
There’s a lot more of us than there are of them.
Want to see Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris squirm? Get the archbishops of their respective diocese to publicly start excommunication proceedings against them and refuse them holy communion for their stance on abortion and gay marriage.
I may have issues with the Roman Catholic Church and portions of their doctrine, but I’d respect them more if they took actions such as this, and it would get noticed. I would be willing to say that every cable news outlet, from every political spectrum, would cover it.
The coverage may be negative – CNN and MSNBC most certainly will, but with the millions of Roman Catholics in the United States, they will squirm. Watch them stumble over their words.
As I said, there are more believers than there are heathens – and Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris are the leaders of the heathens. Unless they repent, Hell awaits them.
So, criticize me if you wish, but I’d do some self examination of your motives before doing so. You may find that I, and others who feel the same way as I do, are more right than wrong.