PS: Loyal Soldiers Ended My Ministry

From the Pastors’ Study

PS: Loyal Soldiers Ended My Ministry

Jesus was denied and betrayed by his most enthusiastic, trusted disciples. How could those charged with defending Jesus from dangers actually end his earthly ministry? What can we learn about how our best intentions to defend God may, in fact, destroy our ability to serve God?

Last month I resigned my ministry at Manassas Church of the Brethren due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis. The chronic, progressive, damage to the brain and spinal cord of MS is caused by my own immune system getting carried away. The loyal soldiers of my immune system, which normally attacks germs and keeps me from dying, has gotten carried away and is attacking my own brain cells instead.

This is bad, not good. This is good gone bad. My defenders are attacking me instead. The loyal soldiers have ended my pastoral ministry.

The church has a similar problem. Sometimes, those who are trying to save Jesus end up destroying him. Some who see themselves as protecting the righteousness of the church or the purity of the faith end up, in fact, destroying the faith rather than building it up.

This, I believe, is one of the true blessings Pastor Mandy brings to the pulpit and the Pastors’ Study here at Manassas Church of the Brethren. She emphasizes the importance of love, one for another, within the Body of Christ. She reminds us that how we treat one another, in the midst of this rapidly changing world, makes all the difference in the world. It is, after all, the primary prayer Jesus had for his disciples —- that they would be united and love one another.

Sometimes, when pastors resign, their most loyal congregants chip away at the new pastor’s ministry. Without even knowing it, perhaps, they undercut the new pastor’s authority, build coalitions of resistance, and nibble away at his or her feelings of confidence and security.

Thankfully, that’s not something we need to experience as we transition to Pastor Mandy’s leadership here at Manassas COB. We have a partnership as pastors and congregation; we carry the same spiritual blood type.

When Jesus left his disciples, he taught us what it means to look forward with joyful anticipation rather than defensive resistance. “I will send you the Spirit,” Jesus promised. And that is more than enough!

This month we conclude our worship series. We began with God; we turned our gaze toward Jesus; and we received the presence of the Spirit. God Exists. Jesus Shepherds. The Spirit Empowers. They’re the same God, in three persons, “Blessed Trinity.” Differently experience; eternally united.

As changes come and adaptations happen, sometimes our first response is to preserve the gifts we had before. This never works well. Our loyal soldiers will, instead, damage the very nerve-center of our life together. We can, instead, look toward the future with joyful anticipation.

Thanks be to God, whatever changes await us, we know that God is already there, waiting for us to catch up, catch on, and catch fire.   <>< Chris