By MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Columnist
Note: This is an opinion column.
Years ago churches recorded their pastors’ sermons on reel-to-reel tape, then later on cassettes. These often gathered dust, but many of us feared one day they’d be replayed, and we’d be embarrassed by yesteryear’s foolishness!
One of the reasons for this is how my denomination commissions preachers. A young man comes forward to share with the church the call of God, and the pastor says, “Fine. Preach for us next Sunday.” In my case, I was a junior in high school and didn’t know much about life. But I began to get busy preaching here and there and by age 19, was associate pastor of a local church. I thought I knew a lot, but actually I knew less than I thought I did.
I came across a new word for “inaccuracies” lately, thanks to Dr. Deborah Birx, the woman Rush Limbaugh calls “the Scarf Queen.” When asked about the president’s sometimes inaccurate statements regarding COVID-19, she said his statements were often “musings,” and he shouldn’t be held to a rigid standard for sharing his unfiltered thoughts.
All of us pastors have “mused” before. Even the Apostle Paul did.
In 1 Corinthians 7:6 Paul shared his desire for Christians to remain unmarried, as he was, so as not to hinder their devotion in serving the Lord. We believe Paul’s judgment was conditioned by his belief in the imminent return of Christ. He wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4 about “we who are alive at his coming” (v. 15). Since he believed the Lord was returning soon, he counseled men and women to refrain from marriage. He said, “I say this not by commandment but by permission,” or “by concession” as other translations render. He underscored this was not a command from God, but rather his opinion.
This makes me feel better since I’ve often offered opinions in areas without clear biblical guidance. I think many of us do.
I took a light-hearted poll recently in our congregation about raising teens. I asked the parents who told their teens, “clean your room or you don’t eat,” to raise their hands, and then the group who said, “if you’re going to live in filth, at least keep your door shut,” to raise their hands. We all had a laugh, but I think it illustrated that good people often disagree in some areas in which there’s no clear biblical instruction.
I look back with gratitude to the faithful Christians over the years who trusted me with their pulpits, despite some occasional musings that may not have been artfully spoken. I’m still grateful for those who give me this opportunity every week. I hope I’ve learned from Paul to distinguish between God’s word and mine.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.