Choose one: Relief or Healing

My problem with pain is that most of the time when I’m praying that God will heal me, what i’m really asking for is relief.  I may be saying all the “theologically correct” words about wanting God’s will, but I’m secretly hoping He will do things my way.  My mouth might be saying the right things, but my heart whispers selfish pleadings.  I just want the hurt to go away, even if that means I will be missing out on something God is trying to do for me or teach me.  I hate pain.  I like comfort, tranquility, and an easy way of life.

“Easy was not made for great men” -my friend, Domonice D. Thompson

The question is this, “Would I rather be healed, no matter what?  Or, do I want relief; an escape from pain?”  If you had cancer, would you rather have a surgeon who promises to cut you open and remove the disease, or, a doctor who offers you Vicodin so you won’t feel the pain?  Does the surgeon offer relief from pain?  No!  If anything his method will hurt all the more, ,at least for a time, but the end result is that you become cancer free.  And, guess what; eventually the pain from the surgery will go away.  You will have scar, but what you won’t have is cancer.

On the other hand, the doctor who prescribes a pain killer will make you feel good.  And, for a time, you get to forget all about the disease, because you simply cannot feel its effects!  Life is good, and you feel good.  Meanwhile, that small tumor, which had once been the size of a pea, has metastasized and spread throughout your whole body.  Now you are dying of cancer, and, guess what the doctor advises???  That’s right, more Vicodin!

Often times, when our heart is aching, we allow ourselves the sinful pleasures, which do, for a time, garner some relief.  Personally, I anesthetize my pain with the internet, television, books, and mindless gaming.  Basically, in those moments when I should be turning to God, I am, instead, looking for distractions.  The distractions do temporarily solve my problem with the pain, but the source of the pain is never dealt with.  That is choosing relief over healing.

God’s healing might hurt.  He may be forced to reach into my diseased heart, and wrench out any and all uncleanness.  It will not be pleasant.  I will not enjoy it.  But, even this is His grace to me, because, in the end, I will be free of the cancer of sin.  In the end, He will have me wholly His or wholly otherwise.  As the Great Physician, He is pleased with, and accepts nothing less than, total submission to His prescription.

Of Pastors in our Culture: A Rueful Review

Although this video does not encompass or inspire all of the questions and ideas I am about to discuss in this article, it does help to prepare the reader’s mind. Please watch the video first, then read the following article.

David said that the pastor is part of the Body of Christ (more specifically, he is also part of the local Body), and yet he has less access to the Body than anyone else. It would seem obvious that he is part of the Body, but much less so that he has nominal access to the grace afforded to that Body. Why is it that so many Christians pay shallow lip service to the notion that the pastor is, “one of them”, a member of the local Body? Is this the pastor’s fault? Does he, as an individual, remove himself from the close cloister of fellowship, by limiting his own contact and proximity? Maybe he is “unavailable” to them, so he can remain unbiased. Maybe he is ashamed to share his weaknesses with his church’s members. Perhaps, he fears that if they know he struggles, then he could lose his job. Then, there’s the pastor who has been burned before. This man sought out spiritual men in his church to keep him accountable, holding nothing back and sharing his whole heart, only to have it blow up in his face. This experience taught him to clam up, clamp down, and keep quiet; especially when the matter could, in anyway, be used against him.

Or, Is it the doing of a “reverential” flock, which sees their pastor as an exalted “other”. Have the members built up the wall of separation? Maybe they explicitly informed him of their expectations that a pastor be “dignified” and “above it all”. Or, maybe the desire to have a shepherd who does not entangle his personal affairs into the lives of the members was implicit. In divers ways the message was given and received loud and clear.

What we are left with is a sorry state, where the minister has no one who can minister to him. It is a lonely existence for the pastor, and opens him up to temptation and waywardness.  Members claim that one of the key reasons they leave a church is that, “They didn’t make any friends” which roughly translates to “I didn’t feel loved”. So, what about the pastors? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to have friends in the membership, be of one body, feel the love that is supposed to define Christian fellowship?  (According to the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development %90 of pastors polled feel “fatigued and worn out” on a daily and weekly basis. Also, %77 of pastors claim they do not have a good marriage, and %75 felt they were unqualified for ministry.)  Click here for more alarming statistics on pastors

This also creates an environment of top down leadership. The Scripture says, and David reiterates, that Christ is the head! There can only be one head, so even the pastor is a part of the Body. When the pastor is treated like the head, it is bad for the pastor and bad for the Body. It is confusing, for the members, if the pastor fails or falls. It is an enticement, for the pastor, toward moral failure, pride and competitiveness.

The bottom line is this, when the pastor is removed from his membership, no body wins.  When 20% of the congregants do 100% of the ministry, (the heaviest lifting of course falls on the pastor) then %80 of the Christians are not serving.  If every Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit, then why aren’t our churches full of ministers?    Could it be that we have built our modern churches on pastors, instead of on Christ?

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