Pastors, Christians and Enforcing “the” Law
Devotional Thought of the Day:
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT)
15 This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16 but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 To the eternal King, immortal and invisible, the only God—to him be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen. 1 Timothy 1:15-17 (TEV)
Yesterday, on the way to church, I stopped by my usual fast food restaurant at 6 am. This has become, if not tradition, something close to it.
One of the reasons is the manager, who at 6 am always has a smile and a warm greeting for me, something I imagine is part of her – for who else is cheery and bright that early in the morning! ALthough I have noticed her staff is usually that way as well, perhaps because hers is contagious. About a year ago, I started to notice that she was discounting my large Ice Tea from on the ticket, and thanking me for serving others. You see, on Sundys, especially, I am wearing my clerical collar. It’s a nice thing – but the reason I return is their friendliness and attendtiveness – even when I am wearing a polo shirt with the church’s name on it, or even old raggedy clothes.
Yesterday, I actually looked at the receipt and noticed that the discounted Ice Tea was labelled. “Law Enforcement Discount” and I had to chuckle, actually laughed quite a bit. Because I know that is how some perceive pastors, and far too often, Christians in general. Matter of fact, people often ask me why I don’t slam those who regularly flaunt God’s law with their very public behavior. The Miley Cyrus’s, or the politicians, or those who would shut Christmas celebrations and signs, those who would justify killing, whether euthenasia, or abortion, or depriving the poor of food. I get the sense that many Christians are disappointed when I don’t single out one sin, and that non-Christians often expect me to condemn them.
My primary mission isn’t to condemn people, or to enforce the law. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is to comfort and free sinners from shame and guilt, carefully using the Bible and the sacraments, the ways in which God has promised His grace to be be delivered.
Neither is “law enforcement” the mission of Christians, it is not in our job description, for were we to do it well – all would stand condemned. That’s why Paul points out that he is the chief of sinners, so that others who have sinned (IOW all of us) can know the joy and peace of being freed from sin’s effects. That is the light we are called to be, the grace that is the “salt’s” flavor. Condemning others robs them, and us of the grace of God, which should be so predominant in our lives, that others know it, even before we begin to explain the reason we have this hope.
Yes, there are times, as a pastor, where I ahve to confront some specific sin, some problem that is on going and is wrekcing people’s lives. Yes there are times where it helps to identify the sins and temptations that overwhelm us, to warn of the dangers, to encourage people to come and confess them – so that they can hear those beautiful words, “your sins are forgiven”. So they can realize the need for Christ’s grace, at that point in their lives, allowing Him to bring healing, restoration, and enable them to peacefully rest in His presence. Perhaps then, as we understand that pastors are priests aren’t law enforcement officers, we will be less anxious when the guy in the black uniform with the little plastic “badge” at his throat shows up,
So that together, free in Christ Jesus, we can praise and glorify God
Law Enforcement is a good thing, and I thank God, and often those involved in it, for fulfilling their calling.
But mine is different, as is the church’s.
May we get this – and may Christ’s grace bring light whereever we go! AMEN
Posted on December 23, 2013, in Devotions and tagged absolution, breakfast, Calling, Condemnation, Duck Dynasty, Evangelism, God, grace, Ice Tea, law enforcement, law of Moses, Miley Cyrus, role of a pastor, Scrooge. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.