I just finished a men’s Bible study on the Book of Acts Chapter 13-14, speaking of the stoning of the Apostle Paul by the Jews for sharing the Gospel of Good News with the gentiles in the synagogue. We were speaking of the Holy Spirit’s calling Christians into ministry. God does the calling and people do the sending. Our group talked of ministries we serve; ministry meaning serving. The discussion eventually led to how many people in churches feel in-charge of things and empower themselves in it. One of my favorite pastor/teachers, Chuck Swindoll, spoke of God gifting each of us. However, he spoke of some in the church who seem always to be critical as if having the gift of criticism. Our group today spoke of having “the ministry of stoning.”
What is this human instinct to attack others. It seems that this is at worst in the church, however, certainly politics this season has risen to a new low of criticism. Our nation’s people seem to be following suit in finding fault everywhere and whenever. I have never heard such acrimony from politicians and so-called “followers.” From reading of our American Revolution period, it seems that King George III was spoken of in taverns with this kind of vituperation. It is written that the King’s indiscriminate taxation, and dislike of “inalienable rights” caused rebellion, riots and revolution. It also seems to be that these kinds of feelings are fomenting in our democracy again now. I must say, “throw out with all the bums” has a certain ring to it. Our government has the lowest ratings in our nation’s history.
Well, back to Christian behavior. It seems that pastors often take a lot of the (c)rap and heat from opinionated parishioners. Some are asked to leave, others leave ministry and some just are numbed into submission, not by God but the ugly churchgoers. I can say this for certainty, for I have been through three such stoning experiences myself. Fortunately, I was not the direct target of most of the riots, but well within range to be hit by the rotten eggs and tomatoes. I witnessed a couple of pastors “defrocked” for unseemly behavior. I also have witnessed many critiqued for preaching a strong biblical sermon. You just can’t please the minions. They will have their own selfish ways.
I personally can be too “thin-skinned.” I take words with sensitivity, but too personally often. God and I are working on this together. He is providing ample opportunities for me to grow more. I can’t say it is a joy and I need to apologize often for my less than Christian response or reactions.
This morning as a couple of us quipped of Paul’s being stoned and un-Christian behavior we talked of as this “Ministry of Stoning.” We joked of the cartoon Stone Age. I suggested if you could see it in your minds eyes of a scene with a caveman (Christian) raising a large rock above his head with the intention of smashing it on the head of another parishioner or pastor lying at his feet with arms raised for protection. It may get a chuckle but should also get a chill from those who know well of the common nature of this kind of scene. May God grant us and may we submit to His Holy Spirit fruits of “love, joy, peace, patient, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” AMEN