I had a conversation with a business man a couple months ago about about some of the pitfalls he experiences in his business as a copier salesman.
He said, “Pastor, when I go into a business, I usually deal with one, maybe two people who are given authority to make a purchase or sign a lease contract. When I go into a church, it seems like I have to deal with the whole congregation.” I replied, “I agree. In a congregation, it is like having X number of CEO’s (where X is the number of members).
Church is not business. However, one of the biggest issues facing local congregations is the balance of power. I HAVE RIGHTS! You can’t tell me. I’m a member too. Power. Privilege. Rights. Honor. Humility. Which words go with business and which words go with church?
According to the United States Bill of Rights, which are the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, the citizens of America are guaranteed a number of personal freedoms. These are:
- Freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition
- Right to keep and bear arms
- Protection from quartering troops
- Protection from unreasonable search and seizure
- Due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain
- Trial by jury and rights of the accused; Confrontation clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel
- Civil trial by jury
- Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment
- Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution
- Powers of States and people
According to the Bible, the Christian has no rights. The Christian is a passive recipient of grace for the sake of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. No rights in church. WOW! Is it true?
Yes. As a sinner, you are NOT entitled to anything but the wrath of God against yours sins and His judgment and condemnation for those sins. Death is all the sinner is entitled to.
I believe one of the greatest dangers facing the LCMS and all of Christianity is the error of the hearers who mix their civil liberties with God’s grace. The Church is a House of Prayer, a Hospital, and place of mercy and refuge. It is not a place to wield individual or group power against the weak and vulnerable.
I believe the problem of RIGHTS within the church is due to a lack of discipline. The third sacrament of the Keys is discarded, unused, forgotten, and now has no “right” being in the church.
How can the congregation live without discipline? The people and their “RIGHTS” have stripped one of God’s greatest gifts to the church – The Office of the Keys. They don’t trust the Christ to hear their confessions. They don’t believe a man can forgive sins. The Office of the Ministry has become nothing more than an office for the hireling. “Do what we say, when we say it, and how we say it or else you’re fired!” Is this Christian Behavior?
Is this living the Baptismal life described in the Holy Scriptures? Is this a life of imitating the Christ? I say not and pray for mercy.
Respectfully your humble servant,
+ Pastor Wurst