Why is it that the majority of people in the churches around the world seem to take almost all of their problems to the pastor, or the one who is in what we would call the position of leadership within the church. Granted, as the earthly head of the congregation, as it were, the one who stands behind the pulpit is the one who is supposed to be the best versed in the precepts of God, but does this infer that all questions, whether they be of an earthly nature or one of spiritual relevance, are to be ultimately be brought to his attention?
We are all of the body of Christ, all who have accepted Jesus Christ are part of the body, with Christ as the head, (Eph. 5:23) and as we are all different, each of us has been placed into a particular position of service for Him. There is though in each of us a sameness, if you will, something that we are all to be accountable to, to serve one another in love, to reach the lost for the glory of God, there are mandates that we are all expected to perform. We are all accountable to God for our own actions, but in those times when we are not sure of what these actions are to be, first we are to search the Scriptures for that answer, then, if it is not clearly seen to us, we are to approach another who is at that time better versed in the precepts of the Scriptures.
Great discernment must be sought here, for we are told that cursed be the man that trust in man, (Jer. 17:5) and to presume that the particular individual that we have sought out has the exact answer in accordance to the Scriptures that we are searching for could lead us away from the truth, the perception of the Word of God has led many astray. So, inevitably, many when they are unsure immediately search out the pastor of the church, and the question then in this letter to you is why, or perhaps the better question would be, why not another brother in Christ first. Whether it be the truths of the Scripture that are being sought out, an emotional issue, a deep seated problem, or even something that holds little value only to the one seeking an answer, why are we not seeking out first those who are mature in the faith, why is it usually the pastor that we feel is the necessary one to help us with these burdens.
There is of course the matter of trust here, we tend to believe that what we tell the pastor will go no further than him, or perhaps to his also trusting wife, but many of these matters seem to be of a personal nature, and so in our minds, the less people that know, the better. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1st John 4:18) If this verse stands true, then the lack of trust is the obvious answer, we love, in part, but not enough to ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to share a particular burden with us. Shame, embarrassment, the possibility of humiliation takes precedence over our desire to seek out those of the faith, and we trust only in the one who stands behind the pulpit at these times.
How many possible blessings are we not allowing to come into our lives by these actions, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ,” (Gal. 6:2) is not now, nor do I believe really ever has been in the fullest extent what it was meant to be, happening within the churches of today. There are men and women of God whose lives are being used for Christ, but not in the fullest capacity that they could be because too many will not seek them out when there is a difficulty in their lives, straight to the pastor is the way of today, and so the fellowship is not enabled to grow as Christ intended it to. I have always wondered, what would happen if the pastor, preacher, whichever terminology you prefer, would step up to the pulpit one Sunday morning with a list in his hands of all those who had approached him that week, and read off everything that they had come to speak to him about. Do you think there would be rejoicing, for all of the fellowship would now be able to attend to the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ, or would all stand aghast at what the pastor had done, breaking their confidence in him. It is very difficult to bear your brothers burdens when you do not know what they are.
We are to share our burdens, we are to confess our faults to one another, not pick the one who leads the church as the father confessor, as some religious institutions do, we are of the family of God, we are to share all, and that means our needs, both materialistically, emotionally, and spiritually. There have been times in my past when I have mentioned something to an individual, nothing of an extremely personal matter mind you, but just a part of me that others might also already know about me, and then I will follow up with the statement, “Between you and me,” then I will wait, and listen. It is a test, a test to see if this individual can be trusted. My point is this, what makes us automatically assume that the pastor can be trusted with some of our most personal thoughts and problems, when we will not trust others in the fellowship, why is he presumed many times to be the only trustworthy one there?
Time is the prescribed method of trust, how much time depends on the questions asked, and the type, for if we spend all our time in nothing but small talk with our brothers and sisters in Christ, if we fear to ask Scriptural and spiritual questions about the depth of their faith, we will never trust them to the point of being able to ask them to share our burdens with us. To ask those who profess Christ to give an account of their faith in this day and age is many times seen as judgmental, even though the Scriptures are more than clear in this area, “But sanctify the LORD God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1st Peter 3:15) Why would anyone trust another who is not prepared at anytime to give this account, but why do we not trust those who do, that is the question.
The answer to our question is quite clear, we fear, so we find it difficult to trust, and so we go against the law of Christ, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2) Our fear keeps us from loving as we should love, we fear what others will think of us, we fear, and so we cannot love as we should. We hide within ourselves, and by doing so, by only reaching out to the pastor with whatever issue is at hand, the problem that we are currently going through, we rob our brothers and sisters in Christ of the blessings that they could reap by helping us, or us in helping them. We fear, and so we cannot love as we were intended to.
I would ask here in this letter to you today only to pause and think the next time an issue arises in your life, when your first instinct is to run to the pastor again. Think on perhaps that brother or sister in Christ, one whom you would consider mature in the faith, one who could be trusted to help you in a way that would glorify Christ. I am suggesting only, there is no prerequisite in any of my letters to you that must be followed, we all have free will, simply give it some thought the next time that you need help, no matter in what area of your life that it arrives. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, how much more your brothers and sisters in Christ, those whom we will spend eternity with.
Learn to trust, be discerning, but learn to trust, and with that trust will come the ability to love at an even greater level, with that greater love will come even more trust, it is a perfect circle, and it is another way that we can glorify our Lord.