At times it has seemed to myself that no matter how well one labours, and no matter how faithfully one says things, there is too often something that gets in the way of others receiving what one says easily. I suppose one could say that the thing that gets in the way of anything that is sound and reasonable, is the flesh. Yet whilst this difficulty may have several explanations, one primary reason has to be that unless one minsters to the flesh of emotions, then the hearer may simply be so offended that they cannot receive anything at all. You may think that even saying this is somewhat unkind. Others, may know well enough just how true the saying is. You may also realise that the reason why so many believers struggle with things given to them freely, albeit plainly, is because the giving can often be no more than abuse even when what is said is sound and reasonable.
A person may have been manipulated and abused many times by other Christians and so no matter what you say yourself, unless you say it in a manner that is sensitive to the point of saying nothing at all, then you become, in their eyes, an abuser as well. That difficulty is an undoubted frustration, and so given that it is also an undoubted fact of ministry to be faced with the flesh of injury, one can either cease to share anything at all or else learn to share prophetically and thus remove oneself from any concern that others view your efforts as worthless. Of course if we do that, and yet we are judgemental and condemnatory, we will simply cause offence and necessarily remove ourselves from any healing between brethren. And by that means, we will also have removed ourselves from spiritual growth.
For those who make a habit of ministering into difficult situations, the reactions of those perceived or real abuses may then be seen as rebellion, and sometimes it is rebellion. Making that public in the churches, as a condemnation, simply teaches many other Christians that they too must hold that rebel in contempt of disobedience, and that is all some brethren need to be zealous in their hatred of others – by which hatred are they in truth murderers of the brethren.
Pastors rarely get the liberty to be so plain as I have been in my own ministry. If they were, the church would literally break them and accuse them of being unloving. Or others, in a zeal of obedience, would become harmful to the flock, whilst the pastor would not see his abuse at all. So pastors often spend their time trying to balance everyones needs and concerns, and cannot address the one thing that would end all of this flesh.
It is a proper and good thing that the pastor is compassionate, but when feeding the sheep really means endlessly placating and addressing abuse by other believers, and still more difficult, their experience in life, then it is not an exaggeration to say that decades pass by and nothing changes. Why? Because such things, whilst they are compassionate are not feeding the sheep. As much as pastors need to be sensitive, that cannot mean so sensitive that every kind of sin and harm is overlooked and hidden.
When pastoring means carer, when the term, pastor is not simply being a caring person, then we do not have pastors but carers. Anyone can be a carer if they have a caring attitude, no one can be a pastor unless God has called them into that ministry of the Word. On the other hand no true pastor could be less than a caring man. The same is true of all the gifts of men to the body of Christ in specificity of the term, the Ministry of the Word. The difficulty is not simply knowing that either, as much as knowing how we as Christians weigh down many pastors because seeing their caring hearts, we see our own weaknesses and pain and feel a need to share it in a hope that somehow we will be healed by that means. Or worse than this we literally accuse others of harm, when in reality they have not harmed us at all, when harm really means what others have done to us beforetime. Failing to minster the Word of God produces endless pain.
That pain we feel is never really dealt with, and when, being less easily understood, that pain actually presses us into the flesh, and in the flesh we become angry and abusive ourselves, then we also feel justified in the flesh. No pastor can easily hold all of that in their hands and teach others what the Father’s remedy for life is. So what that means is that many pastors simply burn themselves out trying to care for others, and are trodden under the feet of the flocks, else they race to the hills and direct the flocks from a distance and show no emotional empathy at all. How about the prophets racing to the hills, and the pastors entering into the sheep fold – so that when the wolf comes, the prophet will see the wolf and the pastor will feed the sheep? Otherwise the pastor simply misses the wolf because he is so trodden under foot, that the wolf ravages the flocks. The pastor on the hills when the sheep are in the fold does not make for a good outcome. Prophets and pastors need to learn to labour together.
There is little reason to explain myself too far because I am a brass wall when it comes to abuse of others and rarely take offence at it, and never receive it without bearing silent witness of it. So what I have done is present some articles which I have labelled Warnings, and in doing that I will be covering specific lines of reason and thought, grounded in the churches, and more expressly in the Word of God, which are specific in that they all contain one single idea. That idea is to speak about and to make plain what God’s answer is to our many problems – be they our own pain in life, our anger by which we condemn others, even when we have no proper reason to do so, and especially when we harm ourselves because we may find no release and therefore little joy in our salvation. So how will we dress in readiness for Christ?
The motive we must lay hold of to enter into this ambition must include the lives of other men and women otherwise we have seen only our own needs and may miss all others’ needs. If we miss the needs of all others, then we have also missed that God made man in His own image and likeness. If we are in the image and likeness of God, then so are all men. The problem, however, is that God does not address our lives by giving us a midday meal, by which we are forgetful of our hunger at breakfast, only to withhold our evening meal by which we forget that we were filled up in the midday. If God did intend to treat us in that way as a normal response then we would never mature. It is our response to our famine and feast that will make the separation unto God, and we must lay hold of that. How easy it is to miss that the character of God is always good. So when we lament our condition and accuse either God or else others, what we have also missed is that our answer is not to say that God is lacking in some way, or else our brother is unkind to us when he speaks plainly in our hearing, it is our own free volitional attitude to God that will settle everything. We must willingly take up our cross and follow. If not then we are without hope.
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. Proverbs 30:8-9
The terms I will be drawing attention to are, the Blood of Christ, the Cross of Christ, the Death of Christ and the Resurrection of Christ. Also the term, the flesh, the old man as well the new creature. Finally I will be using the terms, the first Adam and the second man along with the first man and the last Adam. In those terms the entire answer of the Father to our lives – in both His love and compassion, His judgement and righteousness, as well His mercy, can all be found and proven. As all these attributes of God or else His wisdom given to us are directed to ourselves through Christ in our lives and in all our lives, then this is how we must go and nothing must deflect us from laying hold of God and Christ fully.
‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.’