(The Lord said) "So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from My mouth, you shall give them warning from Me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand." Ezekiel 33:7-8
I think there are times when it must be hard to be a physician.
It has to be difficult telling parents their young child has cancer and there is nothing medicine or science can do. It must be hard telling the spouse in a long-term relationship their partner has a disease that is slowly going to erase their memories, until the time comes when they will, for that partner, become strangers. It must be trying to share the results of a simple test have produced tragic and life-changing results.
That being said, in my years as a parish pastor, I never saw a physician shrink from sharing the bad news with someone. They may have shared that bad news gently, kindly, in soft tones, and with a gentle voice, but they shared it. They may have waited a bit to find the right time and circumstance, but they were honest when they shared the news that no one wanted to hear.
Once I asked a medical doctor if he ever thought of keeping bad news quiet. He replied, "All the time, but I can't do that. It wouldn't be honest and, more importantly, it wouldn't help my patient prepare for the battle which is to come."
The passage above says the same principle applies to God's watchmen. It is their job to warn, to point to sin, to call for repentance, and offer the forgiveness which comes through Jesus' blood.
At least that's the way it should be.
Unfortunately, there are preachers who prefer to go a different direction.
Case in point: megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen who was asked, "Do you feel you're cheating people by not telling them about the hell part? Or repentance part?"
He replied, "You know, it's not hellfire and brimstone. I want them to come to ... our meetings and be lifted up, to say, 'You know what? I may not be perfect, but I'm moving forward. I'm doing better.' And I think that motivates you to do better." His wife, Victoria agrees. Some time ago she said, "Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself ...."
Well, if we are to measure a pastor's success and faithfulness by money and popularity, Joel and Victoria are doing just fine. Me, I prefer to stand with John and extend the Lord's warnings, His invitations and His promises of redemption. John said it this way: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, send Your Holy Spirit upon the pastors of Your church so they may call people to repentance and the assurance of sins forgiven through the Savior. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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