Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Guilty As Charged

I have been judged and found wanting by the scales of justice. Before you cart me off to the Pokey let me explain. Like many other Christians I have read Jesus' command that we "judge not lest we be judged". Also like many other Christians I have reasoned in my heart that there is an exception in there somewhere that allows us to judge people who do and say really dumb things when it comes to the church. Suddenly today I realized I have been intolerant of a lot of people in the church just because they held to a different idea than me.

Here is the admittedly lame thing that happened. A relative I know attends a church that is looking for a new Pastor. They have actually been looking for over a year. I guess since they have a good interim they have grown a little drowsy in their pursuit. The search committee of the church is bringing a man before the church in view of a call this weekend. They have provided a great deal of information about the man including a resume with photo and some verbal testimony of the search committee members. From that information alone several members of the body have already made up their mind about how they will vote on God's will.

That deeply spiritual search for the Lord's will was expressed in this comment. "I'm not going to vote for him, he is not married and he has a beard." I did not make this up. Okay, let's be as open minded as possible on this as we can. The last time I checked Jesus, Son of God, our Savior and model for life, was unmarried and likely had a beard. I'm guessing this means that according to these two characteristics God would not be qualified to serve as the Pastor of the church. I have heard of churches historically battling over the issue of Pastoral celibacy but never have I heard of a problem like this in a Baptist Church. Did I mention that he is engaged to be married? At least he will be more qualified after June!

Forgive me, my sarcasm runneth over. To spare these good folk any further embarrassment let's forget the obscenely ridiculous and focus on the simply ridiculous. The truth is many of us often drag extra-Biblical demands to the table in the search for God's will. It doesn't matter whether it is the amount and position of his facial hair or whether we like or dislike the style of his preaching. None of these have any relation to whether he is called of God and whether that calling is to this particular ministry.

The real issue in a church's search for a Pastor, or in pursuing any other decision, is that we should be seeking God's will, not our own agenda. His will is best found through a passionate and prayerful search, not a checklist of the things we want.

That is why I am now guilty as charged. I felt God's conviction that I also bring other things to the table. Instead of looking at the banquet that God has laid out for me I crowd the table with my own junk food. Just because the things I look for are not as silly (to me) as the one from that sister church does not mean they are any less foul in God's sight. I want to learn to empty myself of everything else and seek His will alone. I am going to pray for that brother who needs to know God's will in regards to his next Pastor.

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