Most Christian leaders admit that post-ministry time is one of spiritual lows. For instance, a Pastor once told me that people should leave him alone on a Sunday night; it’s a dark time that he feels no need to share. I understand this to some degree: Biblically speaking, Satan loves to point out to God how sinful we Christians are (think: the book of Job)… lucky for us, God loves to point out to Satan how forgiven we are (think: Joshua in the book of Zechariah). Yet we, who minister, get caught up in the crossfire: the collateral damage, so to speak. If Satan shows my flaws to God (as if God didn’t know them anyway) he doesn’t get the reaction he wants. Unfortunately, when he shows my flaws to me, I react perfectly for him. I feel downtrodden… I get (to quote the Pastor) “dark.” This is why post-ministry time is best for him to strike: leaders are sinners, and we know it. Personally speaking, whenever I preach it is always from the Biblical standard, not mine. O, what a chance for the Devil! But what a chance for us too: if your life is lacking the standard you preach (which, if you’re a preacher of any worth, must be the Biblical standard) it ought to be resolved in two ways:
In the 3rd century, Cyprian of Carthage famously said, “you cannot have God for your Father unless you have the church for your Mother.” There’s much truth in that statement.
There are three types of children here:
1) The child who scoffs at his Mother while proclaiming relationship with the Father. He won’t make it.
2) The child who’s Mother mothers too much. He might make it.
3) The child who loves both. He’ll make it.
The Scoffing Hypocrite
The child who scoffs at his Mother is the hypocrite. Rather than seeing the church as fellow sinners saved by grace, people who have been born again by the Holy Spirit and cleansed from sin by the atonement of Jesus, they just see the church as fellow sinners, who are always doing something wrong (if only they would listen to his wise counsel!). There are a few reasons for this: one is a commonality; the others are differences:
1) They are not fellows
2) Perhaps they haven’t been saved by grace
3) They are sinners (the common ground)
: There’s a ridiculously obvious truth they might be escaping here: that if the church they attend apparently sucks it’s probable that maybe, possibly, I don’t know, definitely (?), means they suck too. This is Church 101, people! Almost the first thing we Christians learn about the church is this: the church is the people; the people are the church.
This is why the scoffer is the hypocrite.
He sees the church’s faults (of which there could be many) but never speaks of his own (of which there are many). He speaks of how the church should act but he… he ne-ver acts. Would you trust a “doctor” who always prescribed the medicine, and never dispensed it? That’s not a doctor; it’s a fool. Beware of this person: he is not a fellow and he has no grace to give (for perhaps he was not given grace). He is a goat at best, and a wolf at worst.
But this doesn’t mean the Mother is perfect.
For the LORD of Hosts says this: “He has sent Me for His glory against the nations who are plundering you, for anyone who touches you touches the pupil of His eye…” – Zechariah 2:8
The Jewish people are the people of God. In the Old Testament they were the nation of Israel, circumcised in the flesh, and in the New Testament they are true Israel (Romans 2), circumcised in the heart. Slightly controversial statement; Christians could refer to themselves as true Jews.
This is important because, as God’s nature doesn’t change, His affections toward His Old Testament saints can be the same affections toward His people now. Zechariah here is speaking the very words of God to Israel. God says to His people, “Those nations who attack you are attacking the pupil of my eye.”
When we hurt, God hurts.