In the contemporary, polite, suit wearing (or indeed tight-jean wearing!) niceness of church leadership, there are many “tut tutters” that would seek to sanitise and soften who Jesus truly was. Some overcook the “meek and mild” image of Jesus, leaving us with a bland do-gooder god-man who would not raise his voice or display his passion.
But in 30 years of ministry I have found there’s 10 things “they” told me not to do, that I found Jesus actually did.
- The Pastor shouldn’t know what people are giving. Jesus did, he sat watching the offering being taken! (Mark 12:41) Honestly, you’ll be lynched in the UK for trying this! It brings out demons!
- Stay calm, never lose it! Er, Jesus and those whips, chasing people out of that temple. Godly people bubble over with zeal, passion, anger and longing from time to time. In fact, I think showing it draws a sigh of relief from godly observers…as we all feel that way sometimes.(John 2:15)
- You can’t tell people they don’t have enough faith. Er, once again, Jesus quite plainly said “it’s cos you have so little faith” when asked about failures in healing and deliverance. (Matthew 17:20)
- Don’t offend people, they might leave! Jesus response was “Do you want to go too?!” – even when we’re operating in genuine grace and truth, losing people is still an inevitable part of the leaders journey! (John 6:67)
- Don’t preach at people, issues that you know are in the congregation. Jesus did. Paul did in his writings. Biblical church even calls people out on stuff and has them stand up in front of church about it. Wow! (Matthew 9:4) Beware cranky judgmentalism here though… correction is a difficult road to walk.
- You can’t charge people for meetings! Well the charge for being a Jew was tithing (It was actually a formula that came to way more than 10%). In fact the bible says “Do not turn up empty handed” – God was quite insistent then, salvation is free, but the lifestyle and the worship will cost you everything! (Deuteronomy 16:16, Matthew 19:21)
- If it looks like “the world” – we shouldn’t! (I’m not talking about morality here, just culture…so think about music styles, lights, smoke machines, stage design). Actually Joseph dressed like an Egyptian according to the hieroglyphics found (that’s why his brothers did not recognise him). The concept of a mobile tabernacle in which to “carry your gods” was all the rage in the near east in Moses day and Egyptian temples already had courts, a holy place and most holy place even before Moses designed his tabernacle! Even in more modern times, some of the greatest hymns were written to the tunes of secular drinking songs! While some things need to come direct from heaven, there are other things that simply do not matter – it’s not “copying” – it’s just culture, an era, finding it’s own way to express a love and honour for God!
- Call me Pastor. Actually Jesus said call no man Father, Teacher etc. He said we’re all brothers and servants in the kingdom. (Matthew 23:1-12)
- Don’t call people “lost.” But Jesus spoke of Lost sheep, lost coins, a lost generation. “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11
- Don’t talk about hell. 7 times Jesus used the phrase “gnashing of teeth” as he preached on hell – I can’t think of a more graphic picture of torment. He spoke of handing people over to everlasting torment, of outer darkness, of eternal weeping and wailing, of unquenchable flames. To Jesus, hell was a real place, worth preaching about. We’ve got to find ways to rediscover this truth and preach the whole gospel.
While we should not be reckless, fleshly or cranky, an overly safe, sanitised and sappy leadership will leave us with a weak, sickly Church. To be healthy, we must be a little edgy, a tad forceful. Iron must sharpen iron. Preaching should burn (and the preachers too!), our prayers should pierce, our love for truth must triumph and our leadership pioneer new divine paths through a lost, confused and anarchic world.
Keep reading the Gospels and be divinely inspired as you ponder about who JESUS truly is!