What a fun word right? Taking things into your own hands, taking the reins, all the risk, all the reward…all the failure. It’s all on you. No pressure, right?
This week, I was talking to a friend that no longer follows Christ and when I asked her for her reasons, she started to list them off one by one. Two of them got my attention, all the rest were cliché, but none were good reasons (in my opinion). R1: Pastors/ leadership don’t preach the whole Bible, they hunt and peck their way through it. R2: Pastors/leadership don’t use the scriptures in context. They “manipulate and twist the scriptures to fit their message”. So many thoughts ran through my mind, and they all started to fall into my heart like an hour glass keeps time.
Reason one: Pastors have to preach to all levels of Christian at the same time, just like a teacher has to teach the most advanced child and the one that is falling behind. That’s why churches often have small group meetings during the week! Small groups are a very different way of interacting with one another on a much more personal level. In small groups, we get the opportunity to answer questions in depth and have some constructive arguments. Also, having a strong core group of believers as friends is beneficial to bounce ideas off of and talk apologetics with. The Bible consistently talks about a person being mentored by someone and mentoring when you are ready. Having a mentor provides people with accountability and accessibility to wisdom that a person doesn’t have at this point in their life! There is a structure in the Bible that we can clearly see and follow between Jesus and the disciples. He spent time teaching and mentoring them about the new covenant and, when the time was right, he told them, “Go into all the world and make disciples”- Matthew 28:19-20. From then on, they taught people, and then told them to spread the gospel (the good news) too. Christians that make the choice to be uninvolved in any activities with Christians outside of normal church hours are easy targets, easily fall away, and from what I’ve seen, feel alone and unloved by the body of Christ. So, if you feel like an outcast, I ask you this question… How can we encourage you, hold your hand, pray for you, watch your back, or offer light correction if you are absent? Take all the excuses away! You don’t work too much, you are not always busy, you can make time, and we DO want you here with us! I’ll say it again; the body of Christ wants you! Please don’t assume because the pastor doesn’t talk about a scripture that he doesn’t believe it.
Reason two: You are responsible for your walk with God. I could go into depth about the amount of trouble the Bible says false teachers will get into, but this isn’t about them. You are responsible for making yourself accountable to a good Godly pastor. If the pastor preaches something you don’t agree with, then you go ask them some questions. TAKE NOTES! So that when you get home, you can research what the service was about. We are NOT called to be blind followers of this glowing light in the sky. 2 Timothy 2:15 says we are to rightly divide the word of truth. It does not say to let other people divide it for us. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” You seek out the kingdom of God. It does not say “believe everything your leaders tell you.” They are in a position of leadership, but they are still human. They have many responsibilities, but they are still human.
“When you stand before God, you cannot say, “But I was told by others to do thus,” or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice. Remember that.” – Kingdom of Heaven
With all that said, here is some clarification. We should and must respect, trust, and submit ourselves to our leaders. I am not saying go out sow discord and undermine the leadership in our lives. I am saying to seek the truth for yourself. I am saying to respectfully ask questions. I am saying to surround yourself with some wise people so they have the opportunity to help and guide you. I’m saying open your Bible and read it for yourself!