It has always been vital for church leadership to lead well. It is important to a nation that pastors, priests and church leaders teach the message of God. As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, how do the pastors, priests and church leaders of our day measure up against the Word of God that we are given to teach?
I tremble when I read God’s Word through Hosea, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. ‘Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. The more priests there were, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful. They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness’” (Hosea 4:6-8).
You see I am a pastor, church leader, and I am responsible for the clarity in which I teach others about God. I too, sin against God, and I do exchange God’s glory for my own which is disgraceful. I make myself feel better about myself because I am not as sinful as others. All of this is wicked in the sight of God.
The leaders are more accountable. We are more accountable to teach the word of God clearly and represent Him well. It’s so easy to err on either side of teaching God’s Word against sin. God is not shy about calling a sin a sin. He gives clear definitions in His Word. He even tells us that we would not even know we were sinning if He did not spell it out for us by giving us the Law. The problem is the way we have tried to control other people’s ability to sin by making laws of our own against it. The church can appear to be a brutal beast when it comes to closing pathways to sin. God’s instructions about what sin is and what sin is not cannot be obeyed by legislation. True obedience can only come from a heart that trusts that God’s view of sin is truth.
The problem arising in the church today is not to name a sin a sin, so that the sinner can come into the church. The church is seen as intolerant if they hold to the values of gender, sex for marriage between a man and a woman, divorce is never God’s best, abortion is killing God’s intended life, and other touchy subjects that are clashing with our culture. It’s not the church members whom God will hold accountable for the change of tide in the church. It is the church leaders. God has given the leaders of the church the responsibility to teach His truth. He desires that we teach His truth in love.
I can’t think of a more loving way for God to teach the sin-lust Israelites to recognize the sin in their lives than He chose by using the marriage of Hosea.
Hosea is an example of a church leader who led well. He was sold out to God. He was willing to do whatever God asked of Him. His will had become God’s will. So, when Hosea a holy man, was told to marry a prostitute, he did not disobey or question (like Jonah or Habakkuk). He did it. He married a woman named Gomer and had three children with her and named her the names that God chose. Imagine a church leader openly, purposely sinning by marrying a woman who was despised for her sin even in their sinful culture. Hosea did this to obey God and to reveal the actions of the sinners in his nation. God brought this illustration further by telling Hosea to buy back his hardened sinner of a wife who had fallen so far into the trap of sin that she wasn’t even worth the price of a slave. Hosea did what God asked as an illustration of the love God has for sinners.
Rather than loving sinners by making room for them to feel comfortable about their open disobedience in the church, church leaders are called to love sinners enough to teach them how much God loves sinners and invite them into relationship with Him by going and sinning no longer.
God will judge all sinners, but He will judge church leaders a little more because we are expected to share the knowledge of God truthfully and compassionately. How is that going in the church today?