I don’t look like a pastor…
I get asked quite often questions like most do “What do you do?” My answer normally of pastor & church/mission planter shocks religious people, but to those I hang out with… not so much. Let me explain with two thoughts: people have a Western Christianity paradigm of what pastors should look like & Jesus should be the example to Christianity, but he really isn’t.
First, many people have a Western Christianity paradigm of what Pastors should look like.
Most people have a view or paradigm of what a pastor should look like, do, and behave. One of the biggest reasons for this is because of our western cultures influence on church and perceived holiness. Most who grow up in church think of a pastor or priest as a holy man, a clean cut gentlemen who studies in an office, counsels, marries and buries people and then speaks on Sunday’s at 11a.
Most people also picture pastors as men in suits, standing behind a pulpit and speaking loudly about subjects from the Bible. Criticism is also prevalent when viewing western Christianity “pastors” as many people immediately think of tv evangelist or faith healers who are out for money and who drive a Benz. (preachers of Detroit anyone?)
Honestly, most pastors are not just a little culturally irrelevant, but they are also about 300 years late to it. Today, people have more respect for people who are like them and are succeeding rather than someone proclaiming a different way to do it from a high and lofty perch.
Secondly, Jesus should be the example to Christianity but sadly, he really isn’t.
When Jesus came to earth he invaded human culture. He did not bring his attire or ways of heavenly doing things with him. He wore the clothes of a normal Jewish boy raised by a single mother. He worked a blue color job and lived in poor Galilee. He hung out with fisherman (low job with no benefits), became friends of drunks, theives, prostititus & traitors (disciples & followers).
Jesus did not impose his culture on others…rather he saw lives transformed by the gospel. If the disciples were around today, most would see them as too dirty to pastor. Most would only see Peter as a hot head who had a rough background who shouldn’t be trusted, rather than the saint most have made him into.
The disciples were hazardous, rebels, dirty and didn’t look anything like “pastors”. Paul was a hired gun who put people in jail, Matthew was a Jew who worked for the Romans, Philip was a dude who hung out with people of a different culture, Mark was a quitter and I could go on.
The gospel transforms you into the hands and feet of Jesus…not into a cookie cutter mold of American culture from the 1900’s. Hear me now, I’m not against peoples culture if it’s old or different…I’m for diversity!
The problem with much of Christianity is that it is too isolated.
We need more color in our Christianity. We need more differences embraced, convictions challenged and preferences pushed aside for the gospels sake rather than a holding onto traditional things for traditions sake. I’ve heard my whole life from “traditional” pastors that we shouldn’t be like the world…but they themselves were just imitating the old world.
I have tattoos, piercings, listen to hip hop & rock…so do my people. I eat at coneys & love “Slows BBQ”…so do my people. I hang out at the gym, the corner store, the cigar bar and the neighborhood park…so do my people. God called me to be his hands and feet in my community to my people. I can do this best by being like those whom I am called to serve.
To be more missional is to be more like how Jesus was when he came to earth rather than being like “how we were taught”, “traditional”, “old-fashioned”, or even “contemporary”. If your people or community looks a certain way, be like them like Jesus did and not like your professor at bible college or like the pastor you worshipped.
I don’t look like a pastor…I look like the guy I talked to on Sunday and like the guy I lifted weights with this morning, and like the Detroit bad ass who needs Jesus and not a “Western American Culture pastor”. I am a representation of Jesus, and if your culture prohibits you from reaching people…ditch your old ways and embrace a missional lifestyle.
Being more like Jesus means you become more like the world around you, not less like the world. When the Bible says “not be of the world” it was speaking specifically of sins and the fake human way of living including religious Pharisees & false cults. Don’t take things out of context, being like Jesus means to be like the people around you and letting the gospel transform them.
If you were raised in a traditional or legalistic church they taught the exact opposite of this. They put parameters & definitions on holiness. They made a suit and tie and a bible under your arm the standard for obedience…when Jesus said “love your neighbor.” Legalism teaches rules and guilt…Jesus said the “burden is light and easy.”
So either Jesus is wrong or the paradigm in which much of Christianity thinks today is off and needs some adjusting. I beg you to be more like Jesus. Embrace culture. Love people. Give more grace. Don’t judge. Forgive often. Hug the hurting. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked and embrace the orphans.
Pure religion is like this. Legalistic religion is rules and performance. Pure religion is grace to the women at the well, stopping the stoning of the adulterous woman, having dinner and a party with the lying cheats and drunks showing them God’s love. Legalistic religion is human worship, throwing stones by holding signs boycotting & shaming people.
If Jesus was to come to America today rather than Judea 2k years ago he would hang out in Detroit with the drunks, Johns, and low income, blue color working, food stamp card peeps. Jesus wouldn’t show up to church on Sunday like most of Christianity, the proof is found in his example of what he did. He showed up and the church people got flipping mad over his attire, his friends, his way of doing things and his liberal ways…sound familiar?
I don’t look like a pastor…I’m trying to look like Jesus.