Offending Others to Stumble

I have been busy looking for a new church home due to some issues that have come up with the leadership.

It is hard to find a place you fit in and one that clicks with what you believe, but when you need to leave you need to leave.

The issue that caused the break was between the head pastor and my wife.  Now he is a good pastor and a wonderful teacher, but he started a separate ministry from the church that took up a great deal of his time.  It took up so much time that he needed someone else to step in as head pastor.  From what I understand of the situation, he basically told the elder board that he needed someone else to lead the church while he built the ministry or he was gone for good.  The board went along with the request and we got a new head pastor.

Now the new head pastor had several leadership issues that he struggled with and the struggle caused a rift in the church.  The new head pastor did do some good things while in the church, but the damage was far too great for him to remain the head pastor.  He stepped down and the old head pastor came back.  He apologized for leaving and the hurt that was caused with the last head pastor and promised to never leave again.

The problem with that is that he did once again step down and the elder body raised up the second pastor and made him the lead.  Once again he had issues with leadership styles and the church was hurt again.  When they replaced the new head pastor this time, several who were loyal to him left while the old pastor came back.  This is where my wife took offense.

In her mind, when he promised not to leave again and then did so, he broke her trust and she took offense at that.  This is something that she struggles to forgive, but I have faith that the forgiveness will occur.  Her lack of trust is not limited to the head pastor but the elder body as well.  They are the ones who are charged with guiding the church, yet they made big mistakes that seemed contrary to what God desired.  If they are not listening to God to make their decisions, can we truly trust them to lead the church in the direction that God has deemed appropriate?

What I have struggled with in my thoughts is that even though it is wrong for my wife to not forgive the head pastor, I wondered if he held any responsibility for the hurt that he caused.

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come.  (Mat 18:6-7)

With the recent issue with George Zimmerman being found not guilty of breaking the law in the State of Florida, there was a huge backlash because we all knew he was guilty of contributing to the situation.  If  he never would have followed Trayvon, then the events most likely would not have gone the way that they did.  In the same way, if the head pastor had not broken his word to pursue his other ministry, my wife would not have felt betrayed by him or the church.  It is my wife’s choice to be offended and her choice to not forgive, but he still had a part in her actions.

I wonder how many of us have played a part of some sort in the stumbling of a person.  How many times have our words or actions fallen short of the glory of God and caused an offense to occur with someone else?

When we look at the current state of the Church and the departure by those in the millennial generation, is there a chance that our action or reaction to some social issue contribute to them leaving?

Righteous by Faith or Action?

This is a comment made on an Orthodox Jewish blog by a Jew that I found interesting and somewhat telling:

Righteousness basically means to “do what is right”. If God “works” the righteousness, it is God’s righteousness, not the persons. The person would not be doing what the person was created for and the person would just be a robot or a puppet or just a mirror incapable of being truly righteous, incapable of being truly obedient, unable to truly love God, and not being a child of God; not really created “in the image of God”. Golden calf’s or idols, such as the sun, have no real power, no mind, etc. If a person does evil, is God working through that person at that time and they were just a puppet, or did they freely choose not to do right? Free just as another chooses to do right.

This came after I made the comment that Abraham was righteous because of his faith in God and not his actions.  His actions were righteous as they were in response to his faith and trust in God, but the works in themselves do not make him righteous.  This is a sticking point within Christianity as well, but it is one of the main differences between Judaism and Christianity.

As this person pointed out, a person would be incapable of being truly righteous, of being truly obedient, unable to truly love God.  This is why we proclaim the need for Jesus.  We know that we cannot be truly righteous.  We know that once you fail to be obedient, and we are talking about complete obedience, that we will forever fall short of that standard of God.

God gave the Laws to show mankind that they would never be able to be truly righteous apart from God.  It is not possible to fully and completely follow the Laws the way they are intended.  Animal sacrifices were there to help cover up the sin of man, but the sin was never removed.  No sacrifices can be made today, so there is no way to be completely obedient as one of the key components has been removed from the people. 

For the Christian, we believe that Jesus was the only person to truly live in obedience to God, as he is God.  Jesus is the only perfect sacrifice as he is the only thing that was perfect.  Time has shown over and over how a created being cannot be perfect.  Only that which creates can live up to the standard of the creator.

We are saved and counted as righteous, not because of what we have done but because of our faith in God.