I am thankful for a group of resilient and faithful friends that stay ever connected in the digital world and speak honest and caring words to a couple of pastors and missionaries in training. Four of us, from coast to coast and the frozen middle. We challenge, refine and attempt occasionally to encourage one another. We often talk about our heroes and our failings and how it is sad that so much of life and posturing plays out in social media. One of us is poetic in nature and anonymous in desire. He prefers no platform and just quiet places far from famous to share Jesus with those you would least expect. We shall call him Matt Pilgrim. After a stirring week of conversation, he penned this piece that is honest and challenging to our modus operandi in the church.
“At the base of the mountain: confusion.
Sacred truths seem to slide toward delusion.
Unwilling to trust the Good Creator,
Weak faith cries out to see something greater.
Hoping in vain I might better my odds,
Here at the mountain I make pastors gods.
And knowing the grip sin has on us all
I demand perfect, ignoring the Fall.
I ask of you what I’d never agree
Is fair, right, or just for “little old me.”
I raise up that bar so high for a few
Because way up there I can worship you.
Entrusting to you what no man could bare
I cast upon you each worry and care
“Oh please save me, Pastor” becomes my cry,
Give me comfort even if you must lie:
Tell me my politics will set me free
Tell me how comfort can still by gutsy
Tell me “for family all else neglect!”
Tell me nice half-truths that Christ would reject
Tell me fetuses, guns, and flags are all
Tell me which Senator that I should call.
Tell me about race and immigration
But make sure you don’t offend anyone.
Tell me the virtues of war or of peace,
Tell me my blessings ought never to cease.
Tell me my wealth is my share of the pie,
Tell me this camel will fit through that eye
Tell me you’re sinful but not too much, please
Tell me the things that will put me at ease
Pastor, idol, my religious plaything
I’ve wound you up, I expect you to sing.
So speak up and shut up, you know the drill
Make sure every word aligns with my will.
Don’t forget, Pastor, you’re here to serve me,
To feed my soul while I sit here carefree.
Counsel, comfort, challenge, and all on cue.
Father, brother, mother, and savior too.
Cash your check, Reverend, and just play along
Bang the same old drums and you can’t go wrong.
Disrupt my system? No worse could you do.
Cross this old saint and I’ll crucify you.
Your pulpit, back to your pedestal flee,
Yes, faith this small needs a god it can see.
At the base of the mountain the mobs rule,
Impatience reveals that I am a fool.
Lacking great faith I’m quite simply old chaff,
I mold you into my own golden calf.
Keep lifting up Jesus it’s all so nice,
I’ll keep filing it under “good advice”
What a great weight I ask you to carry
Leaning on shovel, ready to bury
Your memory and your reputation
The moment I’ve finished having my fun.
Maybe that’s where Christ has something to teach
To Pastors, especially, because each
Can know the deep wounds of loving a flock
That one day adores and the next day mock.”