Called to lead

In the church that I grew up in, the Dutch Reformed church, there is currently a debate going on about whether to allow homosexuals as clergy. A list of 500 members, theologians, politicians, psychologists and academics has been sent to the synod leadership of the church, all supporting the ordination of homosexuals. There are some well-known names on the list, both from liberal and conservative theological backgrounds.

I am afraid that the signatories of this petition are bringing a terrible judgment on both themselves, and those that they support for ordination. Those who are called to care for God’s people are by no means perfect, but there are some facts we should note around the office of pastor or teacher.

The office of pastor or minister in the church is one that comes with great responsibility.

1.  Appointed by God – While elected officials are chosen by human vote, and business leaders are appointed by shareholders, those who lead the God’s people on earth are appointed by God, and He is the one that gives the gift of teaching and caring for His people.

Eph 4:8  Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
Eph 4:11  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
Eph 4:12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

1Co 12:28  And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

Just as elected officials are accountable to those who elected them, or business leaders to the shareholders, church leaders are accountable to God. While elected representatives can be voted out, or business leaders fired, church leaders that do not do the will of the One that appointed them face a much more terrible fate.

2. Held to a higher standard – When God picks someone to be a pastor, that person assumes the very important role of leading God’s people to be able to fulfill the great commission, to teach them the revealed will of God and to exercise God’s discipline on earth in love and tenderness so as to prevent God’s judgment on that person in the here-after. But how can one teach God’s revealed will without walking in God’s statutes? God sees that as being so important that He holds His appointees to a higher standard:

Jam 3:1  Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Those who are appointed to lead are expected to set an example:

1Pe 5:1  So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
1Pe 5:2  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
1Pe 5:3  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

We can see that those who are being held to a higher standard are also expected to lead by example. The reward is great (“…the unfading crown of glory” v4), but then so is the possibility of judgment and punishment.

3. Total submission to God – God’s appointed leaders are described as servants or slaves, which require obedience and submission without question.

Act 26:16  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,
Rom 15:16  to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

1Ti 4:6  If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

Being in total submission to God means preaching His will, and His will alone. The role of the teacher is to instruct the people so that they may be sanctified, so that they may be accepted by God and saved. That is only accomplished by preaching the Gospel, and explaining and expounding it in sound Godly doctrine.

4. Preaching the Gospel, for Jesus sake – The blood of Christ was God’s most precious gift to humankind. He sacrificed, in the most horrible way possible, His own Son so that we may live. The Gospel consists of three main parts: creation, fall and redemption. Pastors are called to preach the full Gospel, without compromise:

2Co 4:1  Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.
2Co 4:2  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
2Co 4:3  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.
2Co 4:4  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2Co 4:5  For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 

There can be no doubt that church leaders must not change anything, because that which requires change is clearly for those who are lost. The Gospel is there for the sake of humans too, but as with all that we do, and even more so in case of the Gospel, preaching the Gospel is to bring glory to Jesus and His sacrifice. Changing anything in the Gospel changes that which Jesus did, and changes His sacrifice.

5. Expected to be holy – The requirements to be a leader of God’s calling are clearly spelled out. Those who are pastors do not represent anyone or anything but God. Most definitely, they do not represent any earthly desires or teachings, in fact, they represent what is needed to discard the earthly and assume the Heavenly.

Luk 10:16  “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Jesus sends out His servants and tells them not to be concerned about rejection, because it is not them being rejected, but God Himself. Those who are lost and perishing will reject the pastor, the Gospel and God. Pastors should not preach for acceptance by humans, but to fulfill their calling.

The earthly profile of a pastor is such that he leads by example, that he acts in a way which God desires for all His people to act. Most definitely he must not represent anything that is described as sinful:

1Ti 3:2  Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
1Ti 3:3  not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
1Ti 3:4  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,
1Ti 3:5  for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?
1Ti 3:6  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Clearly it is impossible for practicing homosexuals to be  “the husband of one wife”. Pastors must be loving and patient with the people of God as they are with their own family. He cannot be conceited or drunk or violent. He must teach patiently and soundly.

6. Conclusion – I stand amazed that we hear from pastors and theologians that homosexuals should be leaders in the church. Yes, Jesus died for their sins too, but to be saved they must repent, just as the liar, thief and adulterer should. To repent means to turn away from their sin, and homosexuality is described as a sin in many places in both the Old and New Testaments. Those who are called by God to lead are called for the sake of Jesus. I do not profess to know God’s ways or the hearts of men, but I cannot help but feel that in the case of pleading for the ordination of homosexuals, it is for the sake of men, not Jesus.

The example expected from pastors is that they be above reproach before both God and His people. Many fail in this regard, and subsequently no longer hold the office of pastor. In this case, we are looking to insert people into the office of leader while they are still condemned by God:

1Co 6:9  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
1Co 6:10  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Surely no church will ordain pastors who sleep around, who steal or commit fraud, or are drunk many times?  Why then would a church body ordain those who are mentioned as lost in the same breath?

There can be only one answer, it is for the glory of the world. A world which has become immune to sound doctrine, proud of sin and afraid of the truth of the Gospel.

Seek the truth in Jesus Christ for His glory alone, and raise your voices and prayers against this disgrace.

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