No, God will not be ignored.
Three weeks ago a member of the congregation came to me and said; ‘This country is going to the dogs – our leaders are corrupt and the mismanagement of funds and immoral behavior being practiced is disgraceful, something has got to be done!!!!!’ (Poetic license gratefully employed for dramatic effect of course – but you get her meaning right?)
She went on to say how difficult it is for us Christians to know how to respond – on the one hand, corruption is not a condonable behavior, but on the other we are called not to judge – ‘you have got to guide us’ she said – ‘you have to speak from the pulpit about how we handle living in such times!’
Now of course I drew deep on my wisdom – I prayed into my soul and felt like God gave me the most profound answer – so I said to her – ‘you’re right – we need guidance on this matter – go and tell Stuart to guide us!!!’ (Stuart being my boss and our senior pastor) – GREAT advice yes? Delegation is a skill I am learning to employ with panache.
I then went and wrote exams for a few weeks and was not preaching during that time – fast forward to this Sunday – I pick up the lectionary readings and what does God want to talk about in our church this weekend? Dealing with our leaders … Matt 23 1-12. A little bit of Matthew’ness for you …
‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see. They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long, they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues, they love to be greeted in the market places and have men call them Rabbi’
It’s almost as though Jesus knows all about our human nature, (!!!!) – it’s almost like he’s seen our delightful and humble public servants and knows just how heavy a burden they do place on the average person on the street – their big fancy cars and the need to be seen as important and special and, well you know …
And then he goes on to give us guidelines about how to deal with these religious leaders/political leaders/church leaders/!leaders.
He says first off:
- Listen to them, obey them, they are in charge and if we don’t obey, anarchy reigns, chaos ensues – they are in charge – so obey them, BUT
- Don’t behave like they behave – don’t do what they do just because they are in charge – behave better, be better, why? Because of who you are:
- Children of God, loved, equal under God, humble in your teaching from Jesus. No one of you is any better than anyone else. Be careful how you judge your leaders, check yourself, are you judging them through the eyes of your own sin, or through the eyes of God?
a) If you judge from your own sin/shadow self, your judgment leads to nothing but
b) If you judge through the eyes of God, your anger produces action and you channel that energy into doing what you think the leaders are not.
We can criticise people in power, be they church leaders, political leaders, organizational leaders (although I am not sure that gets us anywhere) or, we can be what we want our leaders to be: kind, strong, ethical, humble, loving … we change our world when we change ourselves.
I guess it’s that simple?