Friday, November 20, 2020

A Pastoral Concern -- Proclaiming undeniable truth

I am grateful that I get to be a pastor.  The job description is simple: "Preach the word." (2 Timothy 4:2)  The word translated "preach" is to do the job of a herald (as in, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing").  The herald had one job: He announced to people what the king had decreed.  The herald was not to edit the king's message to make it more agreeable to people.  The herald had no right to add to the king's message or to ignore parts of it.  The herald was not responsible for making his listeners take the message seriously.  He was not at fault if the people refused to listen or obey.  The herald spoke the message he was given to speak.  That was it.  If the authority of the king and the power behind him was not enough to convince people to take the message seriously, the consequences were completely on them.

The vocation of a pastor is to be a herald--to proclaim what the King of Heaven and Earth has said.  I am accountable to God for how faithful of a herald I am.  For, if I should corrupt the message I have been given to speak, then I lead people away from salvation rather than toward it.  I know that God holds me accountable, so I pray that God will keep me faithful and that he will always grant me the courage to say what needs to be said, to whom it needs to be said, and when it needs to be said.

The opinions, personal insights, and anecdotes from the herald don't matter.  They might be helpful or amusing, but they are not the word of the Lord.  You don't have to agree with or even care about my opinions.  They won't save you, and you do not have to answer to me come Judgment Day.  That is why a pastor is not a commentator.  He is a herald.  He proclaims God's truth, not pious opinions.

Opinions are easy to have.  They may be backed by facts.  They may be guided by emotions.  They can be colored by one's upbringing, one's experiences, or one's allegiance to person or group of people.  And they are usually held on to fervently, even if one's reasonings are irrational or unsubstantiated.

Social media has proven to be fertile ground to prove this.  People have shared their opinions openly about COVID-19 and masks.  COVID will kill you.  No, COVID is no worse than a cold.  Masks will save lives.  No, masks are useless, perhaps harmful.  These differing views are not held as opinions.  They are believed to be undeniable truths, and each can back them up with someone's study.  

Can numbers be manipulated to "prove" your point?  Sure.  Can experts be presented to debunk the position of someone else?  Absolutely.  Who has the truth?  Each side is certain that it does.  But if they are opposed, they can't both be true.

I am willing to admit that I do not know what the truth is in regard to COVID or masks.  I would like to believe that governing officials are doing what is in the best interests of the people they serve.  I may question their conclusions, but I can't say definitively that I know better, or that I know they are wrong.  What is the truth?  I don't know.

This is why I am grateful that I get to be a pastor.  And I am grateful that I have the Scriptures as the source for what I believe, preach, and teach.  I do not have to guess what God's truth is; he has revealed it.  I simply proclaim what God has revealed, and I know it is the truth.  

God's word is true because God does not lie.  He is pure and without sin, so he cannot lie.  God's word is true because God does not deceive.  God has no reason to twist the truth for his own agenda.  God's word is true because God is unchanging.  He is not running for any office, and he is not accountable to us.  Therefore, he does not update his message to make it more appealing to a new generation of people.  God's word is true because God is eternal.  It stands firm through fads, cultural shifts, and open hostility and rebellion against him.

No matter what my opinions are, I can be mistaken.  If I believe certain reports or theories, I can be duped.  If I choose to be a skeptic about everything, I will be suspicious even of things that will help me.  If I believe everyone who claims to have the truth, I will be both gullible and confused.

In a world where science continues to tweak theories, where opinions can be misinformed, and where men lie, we can be confident that God's truth stands firm.  This is why I am grateful to be a pastor; I get to proclaim a message I know is true.  And this is why you can be grateful that you are a Christian; your faith is not pious opinion.  It stands firm on divine truth.  God's word is, in fact, the only truth that matters, and it is the only truth that will save.

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