We are not free.
I am not thinking about our freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, but even then our freedoms are limited by our own choices in society. I am thinking about spiritual freedom. I am well aware that scripture states, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." We are free from sin and death, but unfortunately we live as people bound in chains by these very two things.
As pastors we are expected to live a life free of sin and deathly consequences. As pastors we are expected to be above the fray and din of this world. As pastors we are expected to be giants equipped for all spiritual warfare. As pastors we are expected to free from temptation. As pastors we are expected to be walking Bibles, ready to quote the appropriate passage in the face of the evil one. As pastors we are expected to be free because, well, because we are God's anointed.
Oh, if it were only true. In my 54 years and in my 30 years as a pastor, I have found the reverse to be true; we are prisoners to this world as any other woman or man is a prisoner. A prisoner saved by grace to be sure and made free in Christ, but still not free from all that surrounds us. We are not free because we are human like everyone else, and our humanity enslaves us to this life.
The enemy of God is present in this world, and evil is present in many forms. This is because (according to the theology of Dana) we allow it in by our free will. That double edged sword that God gave us, free will, allows us to choose daily whom and what we will serve. No matter how close to Christ, we can be enslaved once again to all that glitters and shines. Joshua's statement is not a one time declaratory proclamation, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord," but a day by day and moment by moment call to life.
The same is true for our fight for freedom from all those expectations upon us as pastors. We must surrender our hearts daily to the Heart of God. We must raise the white flag, even as the most dedicated disciple, and give the day, the hour, the moment to Jesus Christ. We must every second have the name of Jesus on our lips and under our breaths.
I know it is not fair that pastors are placed upon such a high pedestal, and I know it is a terribly lonely ministry at times. I know the pain of judgement, failure, rejections and the lot ...
But I also know of the grace of God in Jesus Christ for every human on planet earth. I know, because I chose to be enslaved to this grace; it is my life and breath. It follows the mercy that is so deep and wide that no one person can fathom it. Here is were real freedom lies, daily dying to myself and daily giving my heart to the One who knows it best and loves me still.
I pray you will find such support and such life. We are pastors after all, and God is calling us moment by moment to give up our lives for God's life and plan. Here alone is real joy and real freedom, and, trust me, there is no better place to be held captive then in the arms of Jesus Christ.