Exasperated by those who should know better
Luke 9: 37-43a (NRSVA)
37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39 Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ 41 Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ 42 While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43a And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
As a Presbyterian what I am about to say might be controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway!
One of the most frustrating part of ministry for me can be attending Presbytery. It was what most frustrated me during Probation and now I’m in full-time ministry I’m still finding it frustrating!
Why is it frustrating? Well, because of those who are blockers, those who want to slow or halt change and innovation. Now let me clarify this is not the majority of leaders, the majority of voices, but sometimes it feels to me these blocking voices are shouting the loudest. And it is not just the voices but sometimes it feels that procedure slows things down, blocks innovation and efforts to bring change. I’ve also witnessed a reluctance from some to work with others, often because they look down on another church’s theology. As a probationer and then as a new minister this is very disappointing and dispiriting, I find myself shouting at the screen, ‘Just get on with it!’ or when in person ‘rolling my eyes’. My face must be a picture at Presbytery meetings!
Where is God in all this?
What is God wanting?
Where is God leading us?
In the passage the disciples can’t drive out the demon. Is it because they don’t believe they can? Is there too much going on around them and they are distracted? Is it because they don’t want to?
I think as leaders in the church we have to ask ourselves the same questions. Jesus healed the boy from his demons. Anything is possible with God.
As a church we need to believe this, anything is possible with God. Our churches can be places that bring healing and transformation for all those who need it. To do this though we need to lose the spirit of apathy, to focus on what is important and forget the distractions. We need to really believe in the greatness of God and most important to listen to what God is saying and where God is guiding us, even if that seems to be challenging and scary. For we don’t need to be frightened when we have the Lord.
Lord God Almighty,
Cleanse our churches of the spirit of apathy
Cleanse our churches of the spirit of cynicism
Cleanse our churches of the spirit of disappointment
Cleanse our churches of the focus on buildings
Cleanse our churches of the focus on finance
Fill us Lord, with a desire only for you
Listening to your guidance
Obeying your call
Wherever that leads us