Who really calls the shots in your life? Who is the one you truly answer to? I must address an ugly problem. You see it inside churches. You see it inside circles of pastors. This one has crept into some corner of every part of Christianity, I want to share what I have seen among some in the Independent Baptist world. What am I speaking of? Having someone as Lord and Master of your life who is not named Jesus Christ!
Let’s start with pastors and others in ministry. Most of them would vociferously proclaim that Christ is their Lord and Master, but there is creepy evidence that it is not so. What would be the clearest proof? If some well known person, a known leader, can call you up, tell you something, and it will necessarily bring some change in your course of action, that person is slipping into the role of your master. (I am not especially picking on these leaders because if you are crazy enough to always do what another says you are putting an insurmountable temptation before them–who could resist?)
So there be no misunderstanding, let’s readily admit that it can be a good thing to listen to others. Respect for someone may fairly require a more vigorous due diligence in weighing the issue, but that is all. The question becomes can we, at the end of the day, say “no” and therefore not violate our consciences before Him Who is truly the Master? Often it does not work out this way.
While this is clearly a breach in our Christianity, that is not to say it is easily overcome. The pressure is real, perhaps even relentless. There is the larger group you are part of. If that leader writes you off, you may be done–at least in the circle you are most likely to be accepted in. That is terrifying. If you can muster the courage to withstand that loss, then there are your friends, or maybe even your family, that you could be in very real danger of losing. This is more than many can bear to face. Sad to say, this may not be your imagination running away from you, but a real foreboding of coming events.
Still, for all that agony, we have no right to give away to others Christ’s deserved Lordship. How do we rationalize it? It seems to me that we count the cost but with faltering arithmetic. There is a cost both ways, but we fail in seeing which is truly greater. My suspicion, too, is that we know the Lord will love us if we fail Him, but we figure these others might not. May God grant us a little fortitude
Now let’s turn our attention to the rank and file. Actually it is the same problem with only the slightest variation on a theme. The actors switched. Above it was pastors before well-known leaders and the corresponding peer group, and now it church members before pastors. Everything else is pretty much the same. Pressure. Fear. And finally, failure.
The only apparent difference is that the church member stands in closer proximity to the pastor and might not have the same luxury of sneakiness as the case where the leaders and peer group are miles away.
You would think that pastors would remember how that pressure feels to them and be more gentle with their flocks. Usually, the reverse is true. They must, I suppose, decide that if I am going to be closely watched and have the bit ever held tightly in my mouth, then you people will too. They must, sadly, come to believe that is how the game is played.
But that is not how the game is played. In fact, we are not playing a game. The plan of salvation our Savior wrought is anything but a game. He was ever so serious when He said we were bought with a price. The real pain we feel in pressure and loss of prestige, friends, or even family, is little compared to the pain He gladly suffered for us. We need no further arguments for what we ought to do. We know. It is, only, time to answer the question sincerely: So who is your Lord and Master?
Find all articles in the series here.