Speaking as one who has not been a pastor, I think pastors are afraid to speak biblical convictions to their parishioners. Afraid how exactly? Let's keep in mind the pressures pastors are under these days: 1) worship attendance, 2) Sunday school attendance, 3) tithing, 4) meet and/or exceed missions giving goals, 5) spiritual council for their flock, 6) building maintenance, 7) vehicle maintenance, 8) meet and not exceed a budget, 9) prayer requests, 10) hospital visits, 11) nursing home visits, etc. What happens if you begin seriously holding people biblically accountable by saying, “Stop gossiping, that’s not biblical!” Or, “Hey! Ananias & Sapphira, you didn’t tithe this month!” Either their parish will go bye-bye, or they could be in jeopardy of losing their job.
Do we have a biblical example for my second point? I say “yes we do” – and I think that example is found in John 6 – the feeding of the 5,000 miracle. However, it’s not the miracle to which I’m comparing – it is what happens after the miracle which is where the analogy comes into play; the example is Jesus’ response. Let me explain and analogize.
Once Jesus feeds the crowd, and only once the crowd is happy with what Jesus did “for them,” do they recognize Him as the Prophet (v. 14b). Then, He flees to the mountains and then to Capernaum. Suffice it to say, that’s the gist. The crowd travels to Capernaum & finds Jesus, where He tells them (in a nutshell) they are following Him for the wrong reasons (v. 27). After a thorough rebuke, what happens? “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it’” (v. 60)? Now, a thorough analysis on the different use of the word “disciples” and the phrase “the crowd/people” may be necessary here, but semantics aside the larger point remains: what Jesus truly requires of us is a hard teaching; one that most cannot do or drill a finer point, are not willing to do.
Is our church today the 5,000 crowd? Are pastors today capable of doing what Jesus did? Are we as a church spiritually not getting it? I understand that pastors are not Jesus, but in light of how the American culture has softened people, this further supports my reasoning for stating it is “virtually if not completely impossible” to be the church of Acts. What are your thoughts?