The Limit of a Pastor’s (or Priest’s) Authority…
Posted by justifiedandsinner
Devotional Thought of the Day:
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law. Matthew 7:28-29 (NLT)
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT)
Confession has two parts:
First, a person admits his sin
Second, a person receives absolution or forgiveness from the confessor, as if from God Himself, without doubting it, but believing firmly that his sins are forgiven by God in Heaven through it.
The pastoral work of our parishes should involve reflection, logistics, planning, etc., but only in order to dedicate more quality time to the important task: works of charity.
Thus he discoursed gravely and paternally; in default of examples, he invented parables, going directly to the point, with few phrases and many images, which characteristic formed the real eloquence of Jesus Christ. And being convinced himself, he was persuasive.
The other day a lady from our community called me and asked if we helped people other than Christians. I replied that we do, and then she proceeded to describe needs that couldn’t be met by a church 50 times larger than the one I pastor. But she demanded that I demand my people to meet the need she had.
She said I had the authority to do so… and was disappointed and angry that I couldn’t.
But it got me thinking about the church and the authority it invests in those that it calls pastors, or ministers, or priests.
I think the perfect portrayal of a pastor is found, not in theology books, but in the priest/bishop described in blue above. The quote is from Les Miserables, and the Bishop is the one who forgives the sins of Jean Valjean, giving him the silver he stole. He talked directly, and with authority, the authority that is proper for one in ministry, the authority to be merciful, the authority to reconcile, the authority that is persuasive, because the pastor is convinced himself.
Not of his authority, for that is simply delegated.
We are (or we should be) convinced of God’s mercy toward us. We need to be convinced that though we can never fully understand His love, we can experience it, and lead people to experience His love. The authority is seen most clearly when we realize that we are the ones who have been forgiven, we are the ones who God has saved from the brokenness we chose.
It is that conviction that leads us to wield the authority we are delegated, the authority to pour out the grace of God upon broken people, assuring them of the healing of God found as He cleanses them of their sin. We can speak for God about this, in fact, we must speak for God in this way. For He commands it.
This is our vocation, this is our call. Somewhere along the line, we picked up other hats, other roles, especially administrative ones, but our only God-given role is that we are overseers and caretakers of souls. Mercy is what we’ve been authorized to distribute. Love as well, for in reality, they are the same thing. Or to use the word that combines them, charity. The more we can delegate the other stuff, the more time we spend doing what we are called to do, the more the church will come alive, as is it freed from the sin which so ensnares us.
If you are a pastor/priest, find ways to preach and teach God’s word, revealing to people God’s love, and administer the sacraments as often and faithfully as you can. If you are not, turn to your pastor/priest for such care often, and do what you can to free him up to use this special gift to bless others.
And at all times, praise God for providing this minsitry of reconciliaiton ot us all!
Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.
Hugo, Victor. Les Misérables (English language) (Kindle Locations 438-439). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.
About justifiedandsinnerI am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.
Posted on March 22, 2018, in Augsburg and Trent, Book of Concord, Devotions, Martin Luther, Pope Francis, The Small Catechism and tagged absolution, blessings, Communion, confession, Eucharist, Ministry, Office of the Key, Pastoral Authority, Pastoral Care, sacrament of reconciliation, vocation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.