Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Is My Pastor A Politician?

Jeremiah 3:15, "And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding."

"The one attribute a party requires in a candidate is that he gets himself elected." - unknown.

Pastors are considered some of the most lovable, honorable and hard working people there are. In fact, when I was down, my old pastor came to my home and handed me a $100 bill to help me pay for some immediate expenses. I never asked him for help. He just showed up one day, sat for a while and handed me the hundred. He really bailed me out and I am appreciative of that kind act even now.  One time my wife and I ran into him at a local restaurant and he came by our table to say hello, grabbed our check and paid for our meal. He is a gracious, fun and kind individual who always thinks of others. He is a friend of mine, even today and if he ever reads this I want him to know that I only have good thoughts when I am reminded of him. My point being, there are many men like this who preach behind the pulpits of America today that have parishioners who can tell about how kind, wise, generous, courteous, sympathetic, loving, caring, giving, gracious, steadfast, uncompromising, Protecting, prudent, and precious their pastors are. This piece is not a slam on any individual pastor. I believe the majority of them are honest men who are devoted and sincere in their work and intentions. This piece is meant to expose the nature of today's 'Office' of pastor and how it has become twisted into a Profession through the traditions of men. God's idea for a pastor is much, much different than what is known by and large today.

It occurred to me that much the same attributes are possessed by both politicians and pastors. They both candidate for their respective positions. They both assume 'office' by an election. They both have similar duties and responsibilities once they get into office. They both direct a staff. They both have secretaries. Both are public speakers. They both tell the majority what they want to hear. They both have spouses. They both appoint a cabinet. They both offer Programs. They are both on the payroll. I submit that for all practical purposes, politicians and pastors are a lot alike. It's been said in years of old that if a man became a failure in many occupational ventures, he might try his hand at either politics or being a pastor. On the political side, two Prominent names remind me of this. The first is Abraham Lincoln. He failed at almost every paying job he ever held; even being a lawyer. In fact, it is recorded that he never won a case! The other name is Harry S. Truman. "Uncle Harry" was a clothes salesman in a Men's Store. He couldn't sell a parka to an Eskimo! But both men were very successful politicians.

Likewise, there are even more men who weren't very good at their jobs before becoming a Professional Minister. George Mueller is a good example. This man was a rascal when he was a younger man and failed at almost everything he tried, only to have his heart changed by the grace of God. He became a portrait of good as he let God lead him in his ventures to build orphanages. Each man, either in politics or the Pastorate, are individuals and God will Judge them as such. Some will be found as good and faithful servants and some will be given their just desserts. What I'd like to do here is to unmuddy the waters regarding the two paths politicians and pastors have taken throughout history. Actually, both paths are very much related. I will also reveal that there is another path, which is intended by God. This path has been trod upon only to be strayed away from. Men have veered off it's true course and trail-blazed a way God never intended us to follow.

Politicians were derived through a long line of elders. Some of these men became 'Judges' in the Old Testament. Some were Scribes. Then came the kings and Pharisees. The government then was Theocratic in nature in Israel. Other countries had their own line of succession regarding how politics came about, but I am interested in two lines of succession in particular; Israel and the United States of America.

In Israel God was their King, but the people, after God gave them land, wanted to have an accessory to that land. They wanted their own king, just like the gentiles had. It was the old adage of a  child wanting what another child had. So, God gave them a king. Saul started out good, but he failed miserably later on. After Saul, God looked upon the heart of David and allowed him to sit on the throne. David wasn't perfect either. He went against God when he numbered the people. This is why I am against the census today, but that's another lesson altogether. After David there were very few kings who did what God had expected them to do. The great majority of the kings of Israel were corrupt, greedy, vile and godless. They saw and treated their "royalty" as a divine right and cared little for their subjects. But this is the card the Lord showed Israel before God granted them a king. He told them that their sons and daughters would become slaves to this king. He warned them that these kings would turn them from Him and serve other gods. He warned them that their private Property would be gobbled up in the name of the king's throne. He warned them about the consequences of having a king rule over them, but they refused to hear and clamored for a king anyway.

The better choice was what God had intended. He wanted to be their King and Him alone. He knows best, but His children thought they knew better. This should sound familiar to most of us, for we've all been in this situation in our own lives. How many times have we neglected to heed God's warnings and instead do or attain what we want only to have it bite us in the rear? Remember this sentence because I'll be reminding you of it later: "The children of Israel asked for something they didn't need and when they got it, it had become a millstone around their necks for centuries." These kings grew in power and Properties, and with much gain there is much need to manage it. This is where the politicians came in. Back then they were called "Ministers and Magistrates." Other titles were added until they expanded from the highest to the local levels. They had the task of managing the kings empire. This meant levying more taxes upon the kings subjects. They were given the "authority" to collect these taxes by any means necessary.

In the early days of American history, politics grew out of a Theocracy all it's own. The Puritans (not to be confused with the Pilgrims), were the religious crowd who came from England to settle in the new world. They, unlike the Pilgrims, didn't come here to gain Religious freedom. They came to establish a new territory to be ruled by their own iron fists. Their idea of freedom was to continue to tax the people under their rule; from 'Church' no less! This is the same model which had been implemented in England for centuries. The Pilgrims came to America to avoid this type of tyranny. The local governments of the Puritans were made up of politicians from their own parishes.

These men were home-grown puppets to the clergy. They built their own court systems and platforms, supported by even more taxing of the public. Very few openly opposed these men in office because the Puritan system had established the power of enforcement. They took lands. houses, punished, shunned, beaten, whipped, banished, hung and even burned people alive for their opposition. Here's a question that may seem unrelated, but I believe it applies to our understanding as to how we accept our pastor's role in our lives. Here goes; If i comes before e except after c, then why is the word 'their' spelled with the letter e coming before the letter i, when there is no c in sight? What was explained to me by an English expert is that sometimes there are exceptions to exceptions. We really don't know why the e comes before the i in this case! It's just accepted that it does. It is because of tradition. It has occurred to me that we as followers of our pastors in an Institutional 'Church' setting, don't really know why we are obeying what these guys say, and we think little or nothing of their behavior when it is contrary to God's Word! We follow corrupt politicians, and we don't know why. And, we follow corrupt pastors, and we don't know why. Maybe it's time we do know why, and correct it!

Today, to be considered a "good pastor" by Institutional 'Church' standards, they have to be apply savvy political techniques just to keep the majority of the people in their 'flock' in agreement. Not many pastors who would stick to what the Bible actually says would last very long in an Institutional 'Church.' Why? Because it is political! Knock, knock! Hello McFly! Are things starting to come into focus yet? A lot of 'Churches' have become deacon-run. The pastor is merely a figure head. You say, "My 'Church' isn't run that way!" Oh yeah? Give it time! The more it becomes like a business, with a treasurer and trustees, a deacon board and committees, the more political it becomes. It's the nature of the beast. It can't help itself to become anything else.

Let us see from God's perspective what He sees pastors have become. Jeremiah 2:8, "The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit."

Jer 10:21, "For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered."

Jer 22:22, "The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness."

Jer 23:1, "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD."

Jer 23:2,  "Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD."

Boy! It sure doesn't look too good for pastors, does it? I'd say, these guys are in a heap o' trouble! Why? Because they have not followed God's path for what a pastor should be. Today we have the same exact situation, only with an American flavor. In America, pastors are taught by other pastors. What do we think they are going to learn? Their going to learn the same culture, traditions and business savvy that were taught to them from men who learned from those before them. What are some of these traditions? I'll focus on one in particular. They are taught to build an enterprise. The amazing thing is, they don't realize that is exactly what they are doing. Why? Because what they are building is called so many different things, they don't recognize what it really is. And they are the ones doing the building! They 'build' their man-made, modeled after the world's design, corporate entity, business enterprise, Institutional 'Church.'

Jesus isn't building that kind of 'Church.' He's not the architect! Jesus Christ has been building another type of church. His concept is a lot different. His has no business concerns. We have no paid staff. We have no Properties to pay for. We have no tithes to collect. We don't follow obscure Jewish Laws that do not apply to His church. The reason why we are free as a church is because Jesus builds us, the Holy Spirit teaches us, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against us. The home-based church is what Jesus intended. Why do 'Church' goers hang onto men's concept of 'Church' like a pit-bull on a Pomeranian? It's because they don't want to admit their error. If they saw in Scripture that Jesus' model is far different than what they've been exposed to all their lives, perhaps they'd follow Him and leave their fiat 'Church' instead of holding onto something that will be done away with.

People reading this might say, "Hey! I DO follow Jesus!" Really? Which one? Don't you know that there are many Jesus'? There is the Jesus of the Catholics who is a wafer-god. There is the Jesus of the Jehovah's Witnesses who is a created being. There is the Jesus of the Mormons who is one god among many gods. And, there is the Jesus of the Institutional 'Church' who builds buildings and enterprises by using the false teaching of tithing to deceive his members! They're no different than the Catholics, JW's and the Mormons! The cults build, Fundamentalists build! What's the difference? Just because people in Fundamental circles are sincere doesn't mean they are following the Jesus of the Bible and belong to His assembly. No, they do not follow Jesus! They follow a pastor! Members of an Institute follow Jesus' teachings to a point, but when they don't understand His teachings they go to their pastor and follow his advice, even when it is dead wrong. They are loyal to their pastors. If they were loyal to Jesus, they wouldn't be there! Why? Because they'd receive the Holy Spirit's teaching of God's Word concerning Jesus' church rather than a pastor's rendition.

Those who are involved in an Institutional 'Church' don't even realize why they do what they are doing! It's like handing down a family recipe. The longer the lineage goes back the more clouded the reasons why things are done or used. The old story goes that a family reunion was underway. A little girl observed her Mommy cutting off the end of a ham before placing it in the roasting pan. The little girl inquired why her Mommy did that. The Mommy replied that is the way her Mommy taught her to do it. The little girl then asked if they could ask Grandma why she always cut the end of the ham off before placing it in the roasting pan. The Grandma, when asked this question, told them that is the way her Mama taught her to do it. They were all curious by then, so they decided to go to Great-Grandma for the answer. After hearing the question the wise old woman said, "Oh, That! Well, you see, I had to cut the end off because my roasting pan was too small!" The Grandma, and the Mommy didn't even think to go to the source until the great-granddaughter noticed a curiosity in the way things were done. This is where most of us have been regarding the role of a pastor, the tithe and the organic church. Questions need to be asked if we are to fully understand these elements of today's 'Churched' life.

Pastors were meant to perform several tasks. One was to feed God's sheep with knowledge and understanding- Jeremiah 3:15. They were to lead the sheep to graze on the Word of God. They were also Protectors against wolves and other ravenous animals who would infiltrate and poison their minds with all sorts of foolish ideas. In the Institutional 'Church' system today, I would be considered a wolf in the eyes of a Corporate pastor, because I pose a major threat to his fragile control over his paying flock. You see, without the collection of tithing dollars, their precious empire of maintaining a building, Programs and payrolls would suffer. The last thing the pastor would want is for someone like me to reveal what Scripture says about tithing, so-called pastoral authority, and the true home based church of Jesus' design. This information would put them out of business if enough people realized why the end of the ham has been cut off all these years!

True, a pastor is a shepherd, is a bishop, is a minister, is an elder. No matter what we call them, they are to be a stationary fixture in a local, physical home-based church assembly. This is why a pastor can take a job locally to support his family. And many pastors do this, until they start to diversify. After teaching their flock that it is their duty to tithe, and when the tithes roll in abundance, the pastor quits his job and treats his pastorate as a full-time job. See 'Should Pastors Be Paid?' in my blog for a detailed explanation. Pastors are to minister, watch and guide from the background. They are not to be the focal point of the congregation. Jesus is our focal point! In every greeting in a N.T. epistle, it was the saints who were greeted first and foremost. The only place the word 'pastors' shows up in the N.T. is in Ephesians 4:11, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;" In today's Main-Stream Institutional 'Church,' the pastor has become the celebrity! He has become the Prominent one everyone looks to. In some cases, he has become a dictator! And this occurrence isn't a rarity either! It goes on a lot more than we think. He Proclaims his positions from the pulpit and those who follow him eventually develop their own 'flavor' or 'camp' of followers. In these cases, we are actually following a politician! This is not of God's design.

A great number of us have experienced the terrible side of corporate pastors. After years of "service" some of these men of the cloth, have Proven that they are true villains. Their behavior is contemptible and sordid. They sexually prey on children and wives of other men. They embezzle and extort. They scatter and destroy the sheep. Their so-called 'service' is a blight on the name of the LORD. Yes, I know...nobody's perfect. I shouldn't be casting stones, etc. But you know what? Jesus is Perfect and that's why we should be following Him as our Great Pastor. He is the Great Shepherd! There is no such thing as an Under Shepherd. That name isn't found in the Bible anywhere! He is the One worthy to be lifted up and given accolades, not some politically-charged 'pastor' who has become bigger than the church. God gave us pastors to learn from. Learn His ways! But the pastors of today have become tax collectors in their own right. They plead and yell. They spout and fume. They intimidate with all the bluster they can muster, but the worst part is, they claim that God commanded it. They claim that if the flock doesn't render a tithe, they will be cursed with a curse. Poppycock! May I have the Scripture for that please? No such command exist in Scripture for N.T. tithing or the support of a building or a pastoral staff! They are putting words into the mouth of God every time the subject is brought up.

Because of this behavior, we have become subjects to, not the Lord, but men who claim to be speaking the Words of God. Sadly, the biggest person being deceived is himself, for he was taught nothing else. This is a true tragedy! He is the blind leading the blind. I ask all of us to open our eyes so that we may see that Jesus offers a better way. The way we've been following is corrupt and self-serving. We should be Christ-serving! Do you recall the sentence I asked you to remember earlier? Well, when we put all of these things together we can see that a millstone is about every neck of every believer who is called to tithe and is trapped within an Institutional 'Church.' We asked for it, and we got it just as the Israelis did when they clamored for a king! When a pastor says, "I was called to pastor my 'Church,'" what he is saying is that 'Church' recruited him from another area. They would hire him for money to be their administrator. They cast a vote according to their 'Church' By-laws and constitutions, and the new pastor is elected, just like the politician. They made a business decision just as the Hebrews did when they called for Saul. Again, we are talking about the course an Institutional 'Church' would take in hiring a man. They name it, "a calling," but if we peel away the layers of the onion, we'll see that it is no different than how a company chooses to hire a new employee. This method is not Scriptural, for pastors aren't supposed to be employed by a Corporate, Business-entity 'Church.' If they are, I'd like to see the Scriptural evidence for it.

God's church has no such "elections" or Procedures. There is no Property to pay for. No payroll to meet. No corporation to answer to. Yes, the home-based church of the Lord's design has pastors, but no so-called 'Senior Pastor.' That phrase can be as easily found as the term 'Under Shepherd.' It doesn't exist! The pastors in a home church are always sitting among the people, never on a throne placed upon a platform. They do not ask those in the assembly to raise their hands to admit to a certain sin. They do not have an "altar call." People are won to Christ on the economy. They recognize that Christ's church isn't a carnival to attract people to come and hear the gospel. We are a people separated to Him, learning about Him to share Him with a lost world. The lost world has no membership in His church. They belong to the outside world, and that's where Christ commanded us to go with the Gospel.

It was revealed to me that when a friend of mine was in a Bible College many years ago, a very Prominent pastor from the mid-west happened to be his Chancellor at a new Bible College, which was just starting out. The "Senior Pastor" taught his young preacher boys the fine art of keeping his audience focused on him. He also taught them never to publically disagree with another preacher in public, especially when the detractor was determined to ruin his ministry. The Chancellor-Pastor was very well known and had accumulated a lot of exposure in the press and throughout his Camp across the country, even the world. On many occasions after he was attacked, he would never say an unkind word about his opponent. Instead, he would send them a financial 'gift,' buy them a suit or some other present. I know of another time when a newspaperman lamb-based the Pastor in the paper for a year or more. He accused him of having an affair with one of his staff members. Eventually, that man was ruined himself, and the Pastor sent him a financial gift of $500 each month. These actions were made public so that everyone could see his graciousness and example of 'turning the other cheek.' I thought to myself, "Wow! If that isn't the best use of a political tool to get the masses to remain on your side, I don't know what is!" I'm not saying that he did something wrong, or unethical. What I am saying is that he sure knew how to steer his 'constituents' to remain loyal to him and his ministry. That is another true mark of an excellent politician.

The Institutional 'Church's' pastor has changed what a pastor's role should be. They have become politicians in a political 'Church' System whether they realize it or not. An attribute for most of today's pastor is that when he is a candidate for a 'Church,' that he get himself elected. Once that's done, then he can go on and tax the people to gain his living. Isn't that what politicians do? Is there a difference? I don't see one. However, I do not want this article to end with a bitter taste in our mouths. As I said early in this message, the intentions of pastors by and large aren't evil. Many are good men who truly want to serve God to the best of their abilities. The Problem exists however, that very few are taught God's way of being what a Pastor should and what arena he should serve in. If he really wants to serve God, he should investigate what God says about it and question the path his mentors have taken and led him through.

So, is my pastor a politician? That answer comes from evaluating a pastor's character. First, does he do things to please others, or does he do things to please the Lord? This is where the court of public opinion comes into play. But, looking deeper into this question, we'll see a variable that is all too important. If he is trying to please the Lord, but doesn't realize that he is in the wrong venue for church, then he has made an error; the wrong evaluation of what Christ's model for church is. If he was lured into the Institutional 'Church,' like most of us, he cannot be considered a true pastor of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? A true pastor of the Lord only exist in Christ's model of a local, home-based, organic, physical, assembly of believers. In my view, if that man isn't part of the true church, he is a pastor of the world's model for 'Church.' If he is a saved believer, but attends a worldly version of 'Church,' he is out of the will of God because he is pleasing men rather than Christ. That alone would make him a pastor-politician. That alone would naturally cause him to scatter the flock. Again, his heart might be in the right place, but he is mis-placed in his environment. No one would call a man, "a true pastor of the Lord Jesus Christ," if we knew he was pasturing a false 'Church,' would we? Of course not! Then why, other than tradition, do we call men "pastors of God" who are overseeing the 'Church' of Man?

Being a saved believer doesn't grant us infallibility in our assessments regarding our choices in life. Sometimes we go along to get along. Joining an Institutional 'Church' of man's design has become an inheritance sired by the will of man. It has become a reflex action without consideration. It's time to consider that God offers something better. He offers His design. If we would only be alerted to it, and seek His Truth in His Word regarding it, we would be a much happier people. Imagine how happy the Jews would have been if only they longed for their God to be their King, instead of a man. They had the tools. They just ignored them. What tools you ask? His infallible Word.

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