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Pastors, Preachers, Prophets and Popularity

God has made us social beings.  We are made for relationships.  We were created to have a relationship with God.  God saw that it was not good for us to be alone and so the human relational bond was born.

However, early in creation of relationship, human failure became a barrier to the divine/human relationship and to the human/human relationship.  Blame, guilt, deception, rebellion, and omission are all components of the breakdown of the original relationships.  The result was the Fall and the Curse.

God’s purpose since the Fall has been restoration.  God’s plan has been to allow humanity to work with God in the pursuit of restoration.  God sent prophets to speak.  Prophets were not popular people.  Why, because the fact of the Fall lead to the corruption of the heart in which relationships lie.  This corruption loves darkness.  Prophets were sent to bring light, revelation, and light shined into darkness can produce pain, especially if one has become accustomed to the dark.

God incarnate, Jesus created the church.  In the church God still used prophets to speak Truth.  Along with the office of prophet God also created the offices of pastor/preacher/minister.  Jesus chooses individuals to hold these offices in the church.  The Holy Spirit brings the divine call to individuals to occupy the office of clergy, elder or deacon.  The church recognizes the call of God and the person called is set aside for ministry by ordination.  To occupy an office puts one in a position to make decisions.  Decisions lead to conflict of wills.  Conflicts of wills leads to difficulty in relationships.  Difficulties in relationships can lead to attitudes of alienation and antagonism.  Living in the face of alienation and antagonism is not popular.

No emotionally, spiritually healthy person enjoys being disliked.  No emotionally, spiritually healthy person enjoys alienation or antagonism.  When you care about people and desire only the best for them, being disliked, facing alienation and/or antagonism can be very painful.  Still, the duties of the office requires one to bear the pain.  In the Old Testament, Jeremiah, Hosea, and others were very aware of this.  In the New Testament, Paul, Peter and others also understood that until Jesus returns this pain will remain.  This is the cross the preacher must bear.  This is the darkness the pastor must endure.  This is the reality the prophet must expect.  We are not better than our Lord and Jesus told us this is exactly what we could expect.  We are not called to be popular, we are called to proclaim the truth, to guide and equip, and to faithful to the calling.

Do ministers make mistakes?  Of course they do, but God does not.  This is the pastor’s confidence.  This is the preacher’s path to a positive perspective even when alienation and antagonism arise.  It is the only way we can stay the course.  Being liked feels good.  Being popular has its moments.  Trusting in the truth and being faithful to the calling and office, though hard, lifts one to a place better than feeling good and more joyful than being popular.  It brings us into the pleasure of God.

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