No church is perfect as every church is lead by imperfect people. Our understandings of God are lead by these imperfect people and often there are things they can say and speak into our lives either through the sermon or directly that may seem correct, but unless they are 100% based on God’s truth then they can be wrong and can lead us astray. This is one of the dangers of organized religion, but also creates opportunities where we can grow and learn together and sharpen each other. Even your leaders need others to help them see different angles, think of things differently, and rethink something that might not have come out the way they intended others to receive it.
On Sunday I spoke to one of the pastors who have been helping me through the processing I have been doing and the healing journey I am on. I asked him about walking in brokenness because I continue to struggle with the fact that others have forced broken relationships on me and no matter what I have tried no progress seems to be made toward reconciliation. I have forgiven those involved and because the forgiveness is deep and true my heart desires to find reconciliation. My situation is not unique, there are many in life where brokenness is forced upon them by others such as divorces, abandonment, rejection, etc. I am sure it is not God’s heart that we live in that brokenness, but what I expressed to the pastor is that I am having a difficult time reconciling what I read in God’s word about living in unity with the fact that I can not force others to walk in that, even other believers. It gives me a glimpse of the incredible grief God must feel over those who he loves deeply and fiercely who will not receive his love and be reconciled with him. I only have a few people in my life that are responding this way but God has millions. I can’t even grasp how that must burden him.
Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” The pastor I spoke to explained there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, and then he went on to explain that this and other verses refer to those we are in fellowship with (in a local church with) and since I am no longer in my old church and am in right relationships with those in the new church I am able to walk in freedom and to take communion without being burdened with guilt and shame over what happened. On one hand what he says makes sense because I don’t believe God wants me to live burdened by the brokenness I feel, however to read that verse and say it only applies to those in our own local church seems to go against Christ’s teachings of unity, a global church and family, and really being in unity. If we are not willing to be in unity with those who attend the church across the street, or a neighbor or co-worker because they attend a different church then the witness we have for Christ is going to be really limited. I have a lot of respect for that pastor and I truly believe he was giving me the best advice and counsel he knows how to give, however this time I have to say I disagree and need to seek God further.
Is it okay to disagree with the counsel of your pastor? Does it show disrespect? I believe it is okay to disagree with the counsel when you find that scripture supports a different view, and it does not need to show disrespect to follow your heart and embrace your own personal walk with God. How you express your disagreement, how public you make it, and the heart attitude you carry toward your pastor is whether you walk in right or wrong ways. In this case I don’t think that pastor gave me counsel that is completely pleasing to God, but he did his best and as he is imperfect I see no fault in what he did. I will continue to work through these issues, and hopefully he and I will dialogue further about this and together we will grow and look more fully at what God’s word says about situations like this so that we both find truth, allow it to affect our hearts, and then we can share it with others and lead them toward right relationships that are pleasing toward God.
I love walking in community with others!