Previously, we wrote a blog on understanding the phrase, “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” As young people in the fellowship, there are many times we are between a rock and a hard place on account of how to respond to our beloved shepherds. Is it right or wrong to question something that my pastor has said or done, or is it a show of rebellion?
Caution on correction
1 Timothy 5:1a, “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father.” Paul uses the word encourage, helping us to see that our approach should not come out as rude and ungodly at any point. With the great awakening among the young concerning biblical theology and interpretation, we need to establish how to ‘contend for the gospel’, especially when there seem to be issues among the creme-de-la-creme of religion.
Be that as it may, at what point should we raise the red flag in our participation in fellowship in our bid to maintain spiritual sanity in our day and posterity? There are a few things we need to consider for us to come out as passionate and respectful at the same time. Jesus values respect.
I should therefore question my pastor or church leader:
When they seem to be above the Law
God is point-blank about the matter of submission and obedience all over the scriptures. Thus, for example, Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden (Genesis 3) because they refused to put themselves under the rule of God. The same story is seen concerning other servants of God who faced the consequences of rebellion and acting as if they were the Law. Think about David (2 Samuel 12), Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10), Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-11) and many more. Why did they experience the wrath of God at some point? Adam ate what he was charged not to eat (Genesis 3), David faced the consequences of his sin (2 Samuel 12) and Nadab and Abihu got killed in the presence of the Lord for the wrong incense (Leviticus 10). Why is this noteworthy? Because it helps us pursue God’s glory and not man’s empty pursuits.
Because of this, my pastor is also a man of authority though under authority. 1 Peter 5:3-6 tells us that pastors need to watch over the flock because they have a chief shepherd above them. My pastor is not above the scriptures, as it were. He, like me, is under the Law of the great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Whatever expectations the pastor has over you, the great Shepherd has over them and more. After all, when talking to the disciples, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18-20). So when my pastor seems not to adhere to the same principles the Lord calls us to matters of life and responsibilities, I need to question why he is doing that. He is equally expected to do the same on whatever front my pastor expects submission and obedience (it may not be with you directly, but he must pursue such a standard).
When they are the centre of the message
Paul said to the Corinthian Church that all he sought to know when he came to them was nothing else than Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Therefore, the gospel message is about Christ- his person and his work- and not men. So when my pastor veers off this rail and starts focusing on himself (or other things like money, wealth, miracles, etc.), we need to pause and ask questions. Jesus is not a piece of the gospel cake. He is the cake itself. That’s why it is called the gospel of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15) and not the gospel of the prophet, apostle or man of God.
Often, we have pastors going as far as threatening their congregants with curses if they do not participate in a certain project that seeks to make or build their kingdom and not God’s kingdom. Others go as far as telling their congregants that blessings of God are directly attached to the man of God, and with that, they twist the members’ minds, causing them to pay homage to him and not the King of Kings. My pastor is not the heart of the gospel message. When he starts claiming all attention in his sermons and demands, then I must ask questions.
When their teaching is not 100% biblical
A half-truth is no truth! Therefore, in my interactions with my pastor, it must be my rule that it is either all scripture or none. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us that it is all scripture inspired and not part of it. When all scripture is the focus of the teaching and preaching, the man of God is thoroughly equipped for every good work. However, when there is a compromise, the man of God will not be equipped at all, and his teaching won’t produce good works.
Scripture interprets scripture- that is the rule of hermeneutics (interpretation of the bible). The best way to explore and deeply understand the text is by going to the text. When my pastor starts adding ideas into what is already revealed in scripture- making theology sound mystical and beyond layman’s understanding in such a way only he and a few others can demystify biblical mysteries- I must be aware and alert. Paul’s conviction before the elders of the Ephesus leaders in Acts 20:26-30 was that he had confidence that he had declared to them the whole counsel (100%) of God. Not part of it! That is serious. He further explains that some pastors and shepherds will arise and will seek to do the exact opposite.
My pastor has no excuse but to give the full counsel of God when he stands to preach. However, the day my pastor stops teaching purely from a balanced biblical perspective, I should ask questions. When they seem to make scripture say what it does not say, I should ask questions.
My pastor is not above the Law! But, as a believer, I need to know that I have a responsibility to grow in my knowledge of God’s word and help and pray for my pastor to do the same. It would be the perfect case of a speck on my pastor’s eye and a log on mine. First, study to present yourself approved before God. Then, when your pastor is off track, seek for elders to help rectify the situation or, better still, respectfully question whatever seems to be unclear. After all, we are the body of Christ and members individually.