I heard from several people about my post from two weeks ago, the one about the two men who decided to continue to serve in ministry even though they no longer believe in Christ. Many people told me something to the effect of, "Of course they're sinning, you didn't need to tell me that," but I feel that many people (especially those outside the church) would not recognize their sin. My friend Emily took that a step further and commented on my post. Here was her question:
Since the economy is so bad and it sounds like these men haven't really held a lot of other jobs, where could they go if they don't continue to preach? Do you give them any credit at all for at least attempting to stick to the parts of the Bible that they believe in and preaching about being a good person, instead of preaching things that they straight out don't believe?
I was really excited when I got this, because I figured I'd have way too little time to blog this week and I knew I could answer this with one passage from the Bible! It's not that the question is elementary, but what these men are doing is SO blatantly wrong, it's easy to find things in the Bible to refute them.
An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Now, it's important to note that the word "elder" here probably translates better as "pastor" meaning "shepherd." Really anyone who guides and oversees the flock would fall into this category, meaning that these two men do. These men came into this ministry which Paul calls in 1 Timothy 3 a "noble task." That task is not that they're doing their own work, but they're doing God's. Their flock have entrusted their hearts and souls to these men who no longer believe or desire to believe in God. Clearly they have trouble maintaining any of the things that Paul says they must do, but obviously the ones that jump out at me are "not pursuing dishonest gain" and "hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught."
So no, I don't give them any credit at all. I know they no longer submit to the authority of the Scripture, so they probably don't care one lick about what God has said. That makes it a lot easier to do what they're doing, but they should still adhere to the Bible since that's pretty much where their job description lies. In fact, I can think of no other profession where this would be considered fair game, so why should ministry be any different?
I'll leave you all with this. Just because these two men have lost their way, I encourage you to maintain yours. Going into Thanksgiving, I thought Paul's words to the church at Colossae would be appropriate:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,
rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.