The power of pastoral comments
As a clergyperson, I’m constantly reminded of the power of my words: The youth will pick up on something that I didn’t intend, they will summarize my bible study in ways I did not expect, etc. So the following is another reminder of the power of pastoral comments that I felt ought to be shared.
I took my youth to another UM church’s summer rally a few weeks back. It was a blast: food, crazy games involving shaving cream and Cheetos, and a live Christian band.
The lead singer of the band did the one thing that annoys me the most about Christian bands: sermonettes between each song. The devotionals broke up the songs so the youth couldn’t really get down into them and because their style was completely different and not on-the-same-message they detracted from the prepared sermon. Sigh.
Anyway, I would rant more but one devotional the lead singer said has stuck with me and I’m wondering where this idea came from. The lead singer said something like this:
Christ knows all your sins, and Christ knows what it was like to sin. When he died and went to hell, Jesus became sin. Jesus became sin because sin is separation from God. Jesus was separated from God for three days. Jesus knows what sin is like and you can come to him with any of your sins and he will forgive them.
OK, maybe my theological training was faulty but I hadn’t really thought of Jesus = Sin. Weird.
My first thought is theological: To allow for sin to take place posthumously must allow for redemption to take place posthumously. That’s fine but I doubt he would be in the same place as Rob Bell, who allows for redemption after death. I don’t hear many evangelicals embracing theological ideas that decrease the emphasis on this-life conversion and evangelism, and a person saying sin/redemption happen posthumously could lessen that for some people. Again, I don’t have a problem with it but it seems incongruous with the theological system predominant around me.
My second thought is “where did this COME from?” A clergy friend was also there (@aarontiger and you really should read his latest blog post on the OKUMC and church planting). We were trying to figure out where this idea came from since it is not United Methodist theology (heck we remove “he descended into hell” from the Apostle’s Creed). Speaking for myself, I think this is an example of an off-the-cuff pastoral comment. I could imagine going to a pastor and saying “I just don’t think Jesus understands my sin because he was sinless and perfect” and the pastor saying “Well, Jesus did experience sin. Sin is separation, and he was separated from God for three days. So he knows the sin you go through.” That’s not anywhere near the pastoral comment I would make because it doesn’t fit with my theology but I could see it happening.
Anyway, I’m posting this to (1) vent about Christian band leaders and their sermonettes and (2) comment on the need for clergy to issue clear theological tenets even in pastoral counseling or off-the-cuff comments. Again, I don’t know if that’s where the band leader got this, but in my imaginary origin story, I’m still reminded by the need to be clear and theological in all my comments, even the ones I don’t think will stick.