I belong to a United Methodist Clergy Women’s Facebook page, and it is a revelation to hear from others what is happening in their churches. Most of it is uplifting and inspiring. Some of it makes me want to rise from my chair and throttle someone. Ministry is hard, folks. Be kind to your pastor…you have no idea what they are up against. Church is made up of many different individuals, all of whom have an opinion, and all who believe in their right to express it. This often results in the pastor taking the brunt of conflicting opinions while trying to maintain a fellowship of believers who have been called together to be the body of Christ for the world. Sometimes we all lose sight of that.
Any believer who actively practices and shares their faith can tell the same story. The truth is, we are ALL called through our baptisms to go and make disciples for the transformation of the world. This is everyone’s calling, whether you put on the robe or not. And many of you have taken the brunt of conversations with family and friends that did not go smoothly.
In our passage from Isaiah today, the great prophet describes his own process of being called by God to minister to God’s people. He lifts up the blessing of this calling, reveling in the fact that God “gave him an educated tongue to know how to respond to the weary.” YES! This is why we respond to our callings. But then again, he also mentions beard-plucking, which makes me glad I’m a girl:
Isaiah 50 (Common English Bible)
God’s faithful servant
4 The Lord God gave me an educated tongue
to know how to respond to the weary
with a word that will awaken them in the morning.
God awakens my ear in the morning to listen,
as educated people do. 5 The Lord God opened my ear; I didn’t rebel; I didn’t turn my back.
6 Instead, I gave my body to attackers,
and my cheeks to beard pluckers.
I didn’t hide my face
from insults and spitting.
7 The Lord God will help me;
therefore, I haven’t been insulted.
Therefore, I set my face like flint,
and knew I wouldn’t be ashamed.
8 The one who will declare me innocent is near.
Who will argue with me?
Let’s stand up together.
Who will bring judgment against me?
Let him approach me.
9 Look! The Lord God will help me.
Who will condemn me?
Look, they will wear out like clothing;
the moth will eat them.
I love Isaiah’s attitude, and wish I had a gallon of it for times when I need it. These words apply to everyone. Anytime we have to defend our beliefs and articulate our faith to someone who is insulting and resisting our message, we need to set our faces like flint. What a great visual!
Who will argue with the Lord’s servants? Who will condemn us when we speak God’s truth? The Lord our God will help us, so let’s stand up together.
So the next time you are dealing with someone who condemns you, remember Isaiah’s words of wisdom: “Look! They will wear out like clothing; and the moth will eat them.” We need to remember that when we speak, we need only be concerned with the reactions of the Audience of One. If God is pleased, nothing else matters.
I guess that means I can stop wanting to throttle people, and let the moths take care of it. Thanks be to God!