Here in the United States, (in days gone by apparently) many citizens insisted that anyone running to be President was to have had military experience. It was often said that a president with military experience would think twice before sending sons and daughters into battle. People wanted someone who understood the human cost of war.
They also expect the president to have experience in foreign affairs and diplomacy. How could any person represent our country to the rest of the world if they knew nothing about foreign affairs?
Clergy, bishops, pastors, priests, etc., have always been held to higher standard. To an extent, I can see no reason why they shouldn’t. Yet, when Christ sought out disciples, did he seek out the saints of the day; or did he seek ordinary, everyday sinners?
Sinner or Saint? If your church were searching for a new pastor, which candidate would you be more likely to seek and follow? Would you search up and down the coasts for a “perfect Christian? Would you be willing to look at someone who isn’t perfect?
To be certain, the term, “saint” while used in biblical times, did not mean the same as we use the term today. We may refer today to the apostle Paul as, Saint Paul, but was he a saint when he was persecuting Christians? Paul made it very clear that “he” was the chief of sinners.
Was James, the brother of Jesus a saint? On the contrary, James didn’t even believe Jesus was the Christ until after his death and resurrection (John 7:5). The bible tells us that Jesus’ own brothers did not believe in him. And yet, after the resurrection of Jesus, James became a “pillar” in the church (Gal 2:9).
Would it be okay if our prospective pastor was a divorcee? Is it alright if they were a single parent? Would we consider a pastor with little experience; perhaps just recently out of school or seminary?
Would the financial status of a prospective pastor be a serious factor in our decision-making process? Does he/she have to be one who “keeps up with the Jones’?” Must they drive a certain type of car? Must they come from a certain neighborhood? Must they have an endless wall of degrees?
Each year millions of people are helped by “AA.” Who is better suited to lead an “AA” meeting, a former alcoholic or someone who’s never experienced drinking; the control it could have over one’s life?
Millions of people each year attend support groups for divorced people. Should a group for divorcees be led by someone who has lived through and experienced the pains of a divorce; or someone who has not?
We are all members of a sinful world. Some have experienced more sin than others. Some have experienced and lived through pains and sufferings while many have not.
“Hypocrites,” now here’s a word that gets tossed around a lot. Can we really call anyone hypocritical because they committed a sin and then turn around and preach to others? How can a divorced pastor, known for an affair, have the nerve to stand up in front of his congregation and preach a lesson on infidelity?
Is this pastor a hypocrite; or is he someone who has experienced pain and sin, and the consequences; who simply desires for us to learn from his mistake? Is this a hypocrite? To me, it sounds like someone who has persevered, and with God’s grace and God’s help, managed to crawl through a crisis; through pain, and through regret. This sounds like a person who can speak from experience.
So, in the end, would anyone pause for a few moments and not dismiss somebody so quickly because they came from a different neighborhood, because they don’t keep up with the Jones’, or because they’ve had a troubled or not so perfect life?
Who was it that said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone…?”