Question Authority-Bumper Sticker Wisdom

By the time all is said and done I think most people will think I am a church hating, christian bashing , rebellious and bitter woman.  I’ll cop to the rebellious part but that is about all.

There are two things from my teen years that I have never forgotten.  Both of them were bumper stickers that my extreme left-wing liberal foster mom had on her volkswagon bug.  The first one was kind of a response to Jerry Falwell and the other i think to religion in general. Those two bumper stickers have shaped my mind and my thinking especially in regards to things like spiritual authority , giving man undue honor and the church in general.

The first one and certainly the most powerful for me—QUESTION AUTHORITY—What a thought.  If you don’t question authority you never know what you really know, only what others tell you.  The word is full of instruction to look, to seek, to test and to prove the things in this world and in your church by Gods’ standards, not our own.  But we don’t.  We don’t ask.  We don’t question. We don’t rock the boat.  And here starts my bash of pastors and  religious authority. 

I grew up without a dad and with a mistrust of men in general.  It is possible that that fact has kept me safer in certain things than not.  I don’t recommend distrust, but there is something to be said for healthy caution of people and their motives.  I have known those who think and believe that every big decision in their lives needs to be run by their pastor for his approval or his prayer.  Sorry he’s not my daddy.   My experience ( only mine personally ) is that they really don’t care very much unless you are one of their chosen frozen.

We give pastors way to much power in our lives, most of the time, most of us don’t bother to require them to earn it or deserve it. Not one of us would go to a guy with our precious car just because he “said” he was a mechanic but we the sheep will follow any man who says he is a pastor.  And I don’t care where pastors are schooled in theology and doctrine.  Do they care?  Are they loving?  Do they themselves practice what they preach?  Do they warn you against saying anything that questions their ultimate knowledge and authority? Will they sit with you, eat with you and pray with you?  Do they change the Word in any way?  Do they ignore you when you point out an error in the scripture they quoted?  I could go on and on and on.  Question Authority, Question anything that you don’t know for yourselves that anyone else teaches you. Question everything and then compare it to the Word of God.  Does the teaching,  does the pastor, does the church line up with the ultimate authority of God and His Word?

The Word is very clear about respecting and giving due to all authority.  But in His Word God also warns us of following false teachers and prophets.  He warns us not to be deceived.  He warns us constantly of making men into idols and glorifying the created rather than the creator.  He warns us about following men rather than Himself.

We need to heed those warnings because let me just tell you, there are those out there who will use the Word of God to manipulate and to use and to hurt in order to gain power and prestige.  That fact is true in every facet of society and yet we still expect it to be different in the church.  Why?  They are still people , human, sinful and just plain wrong sometimes.  And sometimes you just have people who are weak, who maybe didn’t start out bad but who let pride and the need for power and approval become their motivation.  Not every bad church or pastor is malignant.  We have to leave room for grace and knowing that not even the best pastors cannot possibly be perfect people for every single person in their congregation.

I have always questioned and rebelled somewhere in my life, not always to the betterment of myself for sure.  But that habit of rebelling against things that are not right, that habit of questioning my authority so that I can find the whole truth is now serving me very well, as long as I keep that submitted to the Lord that is !

If we are truly created in the image of God, then we have intelligence, we have brains, we have curiosity to learn things on our own.  We need to use those things to make sure that those who we give authority in our lives measure up to what the Word of God says.  We need to submit to God-given authority, not to man-mandated authority. 

There are far to many of us out there who are broken and bleeding, dis-illusioned and  discouraged from years of blithely allowing others to think for us.  I for one am going to question and debate and read and study to find the answers for myself.   The biggest thing I am going to do is make God my God instead of a pastor.

By the way, God is not afraid of your questions and anyone who is, you might want to think twice about.

 

A letter to the Congregation

Dear Congregation,

I am writing out of a deep sense of frustration and grief, good gracious what more can we do for you?

Every Sunday we come to you with the best we have for the week.  We stand up in front of you and pour out our very breath to try to communicate with and to you what the Word of God is saying.  We not only pour our breath out, but we are exposing ourselves on stage  to be targeted  for ridicule and nitpicking by the very people we are trying to help.

You come to our church, you go to sunday school, attend our small groups, go to all the potlucks and attend counseling and yet you still go home on any given Sunday and engage in lust, greed, anger, strife and whatever.  All the while picking apart our sermons trying to find a reason that this particular one does not apply your circumstance.  How can we help you if you continue to walk in pride and arrogance?

We want to also remind you that it is not our job fix you, and in fact we can’t.  We are not Jiffy Lube.  You can’t drive in, get your oil changed and drive out with a brand new car.  You as people are much more complex than that and you need an expert (  like maybe GOD?) to fix you.  While we are vehicles of the Lord and the Lord uses us to minister to you, ultimately it is Christ who does the work. Guess what?  You can go to Him too!

If we were being totally honest we would tell you two things.  First, every single thing we teach is old news.  There is nothing new under the sun, the bible is still the same as it was 2000 years ago.  The subject matter is all still intact. With the bible, and a good concordance you could write your own sermon and be the one to stand up on stage and speak your heart only to be castrated with emails the next morning.

Second, you don’t need us and we know it.  As stated above, you have all the info you need for your life at your fingertips.  So the question we want to ask you is “how lazy can you be?”  I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but truly, what we say on any given Sunday should confirm things that you already know.  Unless of course you are not a christian or a new christian.  The rest of you “mature” people really need to start studying for yourselves.

Our churches are almost always geared to meet a certain need.  Some of us feel called to speak a softer message for those who have been clubbed to death by the bible.  Some of us feel called to speak a more basic message for those christians who are still young in the Lord.  Some of us have a bent for worship, and some a bent for teaching line by line.  And then, a few of us are called to call you mature christians out on your sin.  Every church, every pastor has a different flavor.  Please do us a favor and figure out where you need to be and go there.  If our teaching doesn’t resonate in your heart and spirit please feel free to attend where God calling you.  Most of us don’t care where you attend regularly, just that you do attend somewhere on a regular basis.

We are sorry that some of us have wounded you and hurt you.  We realize that a good many of us pastors and leaders have taken the word and twisted it to get what we wanted out of the word and out of you.  Those of us who do our best not to hurt others care deeply about you and about what our fellow ministers have done.

So please don’t paint all of us with the same brush.  We are all different and we all have different strengths and wdeaknesses.  However most of us strive to accentuate our strengths and deal with our weaknesses.  For the most part we do our best to not hurt, but as men, us disappointing you is inevitable.  We are not asking for a free pass when we say things like that, those of us who really care are just asking you to afford us the same grace you ask for.

There are more of you out in the pews with hero complexes than there are of us with the same issue in the pulpit.  We don’t want to be your hero, and really it is not our job to be your hero.   Don’t get me wrong, we want to help, to teach, to lead, but we do not want to do those things from the top of a pedestal.  That would make us conductors.  We’re just men.

Don’t celebritize anyone, much less us.  You take away from the Glory of God when you make us into celebrities.  The word is very clear regarding who should be getting glory and believe us it is not us!  Everything we have that has any merit at all is only because God gave it to us.  Those of us who can teach well, those of us who speak well, those of us with charisma, whatever our giftings are they are not the result of our hard work but rather the work of Christ in us.  Save the glorifying for the one who deserves it, God.

Not everyone who claims to be a pastor is really a pastor.  Some of us are fakes, use the Word to test anyone who comes to you as a “pastor”.  Examine those of us who call ourselves pastors, hold our lives up to the light of the Word of God, if we don’t pass the test of the bible we surely will not pass the test of you.  So be careful who you give respect, time and honor too.

Not every person gifted as a pastor has an office in a church.  There are those of us who have been called to pastor others from our homes.  An office does not automatically mean that the person behind the pulpit is God approved.  Christians support people based on their feelings so yes, a man can pass himself off as a pastor if he whispers the things that you want to hear.  Learn to listen to mens words with your spirit, through the Word of God, not through your heart or you wallet.

We love you guys, we wouldn’t bother to go through the things we go through if we didn’t . Long hours at the office away from our families.  On no Sunday can we decide to just not go to church so we can watch the game.  Nor can we ever enter our church doors and not be inundated with those things that need attention.  We do this because we love the Lord and we love you.

please, just give us a break sometimes, we need grace as much as you do.

 

love, your pastors

 

A letter to Pastors

Dear Pastors,

I am writing to you out of a deep sense of grief that I feel when I see more broken people coming out of your churches than going in.

Day after day I read or hear of yet another wounded heart at the hands of men who consider themselves to be pastors and leaders.  This pastor committed adultery, this pastor is gay, this pastor embezzled but the worst of all, this pastor just didn’t care.

I realize that what most people would say to me at this point is that I shouldn’t have expectations of you, that I shouldn’t have put you on a pedestal after all you are only a man.  Would you like to hear my answer to that?

Please believe me when I say that I truly have no illusion of your perfection, I realize that you are only a mere man, but do you?  Do you know that you are not all-knowing and perfection personified?  Do you know that in the grand scheme of things and at the foot of the cross your gifting for teaching and speaking means nothing?

Weekly you preach to us that there should be less of us and more of Jesus, but as much as I see it preached I don’t see it walked out by very many of you.  Weekly you preach about the importance of “community” but where are you in the community of your church?  Weekly you speak of  “accountability” but when the first hint of scandal hits your ministry you clam up and hide the truth or disguise it as much as you can.  You tell us to be transparent but you have perfect marriages and perfect children and perfect friendships and ministries.  You hold yourselves up to your church bodies as the guy with little or no problems and then wonder why you might be put up on a pedestal and expected to act out the perfection you speak.

Please understand, if we attend your church on a regular basis, we like you.  You don’t have to be someone you are not, or better.  All we as your body are asking for is, for you to be honest about your sin and struggles and to walk out life WITH us, alongside us.  No more of this elitist stuff oh you can only have a few friends in your chosen circle.  Otherwise known as the frozen chosen.

Do not quote to us the scriptures that talk about how you should be honored.  Because let me tell you, I can find many more scriptures that tell us we are to hold others as higher than ourselves.

Don’t quote to me the story of Jesus’ inner circle, you are not Jesus, you are his ambassador.  Be that to your whole body.  Most of us really do know that you need to have a family life and you simply can’t be on intimate terms with 5000 people, but don’t use that as a weapon and a shield against undesirables.  If i remember correctly Jesus sat with a lot of undesirables.

Let us ask stupid questions and don’t look at us like we are crazy.  Yes some of us are just not that smart, but those of us who have less intelligence usually already know that about ourselves and we ask not to receive your ridicule but to try and learn more.  The others of us who ask dumb questions have the same goal, we just want learn or get clarification on things we are not sure of.  When you took on the role of pastor that included teaching and tutoring.

Ask us to pray for your family.  Be transparent enough to be able to say “we are really going through some things right now, can you please pray for our family?”  We attend your church because we love you and respect you, love us and respect us enough to show the same transparency that you ask for.  We don’t want to know your dirty laundry nor do we want you to expose your loved ones to us, we simply want to love you.

Ask us for advice.  You may have a gem of wisdom in your church that you will never know if you continue to act as if you have all the answers.

You pastors have a job that I truly would never take on myself.  What that means is that God has equipped you for this job.  I cannot begin to understand your pressure, you are right but we, your body are here to help you shoulder the burden.

Instead of “being” a pastor, how about just being a human who happens to hold the office of pastor.  You were created first for God in His image.  He didn’t create you a pastor, he created you a man in His image.  Just be a man who teaches and leads.  Created for first, called too second.  Your calling has always been secondary to your creation.

Pastors, please, just be men, leave the being God to God.  It works out better for everyone in the long run.

Love, your body