Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Musings,08/30/10, Preacher... by John

Preacher? Prophet? Pastor? Solicitor?

It bothers me that ministers are given prestigious titles such as "The Right Reverend..." I've not understood why we should have such a title when our Lord chose to walk the earth without one. Many of my friends prefer to be referred to as "Brother...." I prefer that over most of the others. Our pastor said usually when someone calls him preacher to his face, it has a bad connotation to him, and I've frequently felt that way, too. Our pastor is adamant about our calling him by his name, and we usually do that. He has a doctorate, but he chooses not to use it. I feel that is to his credit. Earning the degree should be about the material learned, not the title. Most of my past church members simply called me John, and I liked that.

Recently I invited a man to visit our church. He told me plainly that he would never enter that church at all, and he informed me that all preachers had their "hands out." Then he added that he worked hard just to put food on the table, and money was all any of "them preachers" cared about. It seemed to me he was more interested in keeping his money than doing anything with God. I'd like to say I gave him a good answer for his statements, but I was dumbfounded because I thought the man was a Christian. Now I don't know what to think about him, because giving is a large part of a Christian's life, not necessarily money, but giving in all sorts of ways. I told another friend about my experience. He said he had run across that inviting people to his church. He wanted to know if I'd like to hear his response. I said yes.

He told me he always asked, "If you come to our church, you will be a guest, won't you?" The natural answer is affirmative. He continued, "When you invite guests to your house, do you charge them for their dinner?" The natural answer is no. Then he explained, "You come and you'll be our honored guest. We won't ask you for a single thing! We will invite you to come again as often as you like, and as long as you are a guest, we'll never ask you to support anything we do!" I believe that is a good, tactful way of expressing the truth.

Jesus gave His life on a cruel cross for us. If He is our Lord, we will become like Him. I don't think many of us will be called on to make the supreme sacrifice of our earthly existence as He did, but we cannot be like Jesus if we don't freely give! It is the Christian way. Our pastor has apologized the few times I've heard him mention a need for money from the pulpit. He may have needed to, but he should not have to.

God established a rule for the twelve tribes of Israel. The Levites were not to have an inheritance as a tribe. The other eleven tribes were to own their own lands, and they were to give a tithe, one tenth, of their produce whether it was grain, wine, or livestock. The Levites and priests were to make the offerings, attend to the tabernacle, or temple, needs, and enjoy their part of those tithes. They themselves were to tithe also. That meant that having received tithes from eleven tribes, they had in their hands 10% more than the rest of the families of Israel. When they themselves tithed, that took care of that extra 10%, and kept them about the same average economic level as their peers. By the same reasoning, if a present day church has 20 families, and one pastor. The tithe of the church, should allow the pastor to have a salary equal to the average of the congregation, and there should be that much again for the expenses of the church as a whole.

Nothing, with human beings, ever works out completely as it should. We have people who attain riches and people who are dirt poor. I believe our God loves all equally. I believe all are acceptable in His sight if they are followers of Jesus.

I did not remind the man who, perhaps without thinking, included me with all the other preachers as having outstretched hands, that his argument did not have a single valid point. In addition to that, I know he pays for food, transportation, housing, medical needs, and taxes. He PAYS for those things. God only ASKS for his gifts. He doesn't send out collectors and take those who do not tithe to court to get justice.

It's true there are preachers who are in business to make money for themselves, and who shed tears asking for offerings for the starving children, or masses, in the world while they build their bank accounts. Those are very, very few compared to the others serving God as they should. Some pastors I know worry about how they are going to pay their own electric bills, or pay for their kids' school supplies because so many in their churches are not supplying their needs as God intends they should.

Talk about money by people who really are unaware of what goes on in Christian groups is another way Satan causes disruption and hinders people from receiving the truth.

So what will you get in church? I don't know about many other churches other than the one I attend and support, so I can only tell you what you should expect from us.

First, you should expect a welcome from all the people present as well as the pastor. Second, you should expect to hear the Bible read and taught. Third, you should hear the Bible preached. Yep! I Corinthians 1: 17,18 says, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who being saved it is the power of God." Oh! One other thing! If you happen to visit on Wednesday night, you'll get a good meal with us, and you won't need to spend money to put stuff on the table at home at least that once! Maybe I shouldn't say that. It sounds a little sarcastic, and I don't mean to be.

If you let money-talk keep you away from church, one other verse of Scripture comes to mind; Hebrews 10:25 says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." The translators capitalized "Day" because they believe it refers to Jesus coming to earth again to take His followers to heaven where we will spend eternity with Him in our Father's service.


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