Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Pastor Who Scolds

Last week my Pastor scolded me.

I had sent him one of those funny e-mail jokes. Where on earth I came up with the brilliant idea that the other deacons in my church and the pastors would enjoy an internet joke that involved Jesus, I’ll never know. My pastor gets so much electronic mail he hates messages anyway. I knew that. It was just one of those sloppy, brain-dead moments when you snatch a glance at something someone’s spammed you with and immediately, without sober second thought, spam it forward, to a group list, no less, of the most spiritually sensitive people in your church.

In all fairness, my pastor didn’t know he’d scolded me. I had to tell him about it later, after the scolding had done its redemptive readjustment of my internet priorities. He was surprised, and pleased, to find out God had used him to discipline me, but he had no idea his question, “Why on earth do you read this stuff?!” would sound like a reprimand.

He was probably just curious, but it sounded like a rhetorical question to me. You know, like the ones Jesus used to ask his disciples: “How long must I put up with you?” That kind of thing. But it’s hard to interpret e-mails because you don’t get the body language. Anyway, the e-mail had obviously caught him at a bad time. He’d probably just come out of an hour-long meeting with Jesus where they’d been discussing matters involving the Kingdom of God, or something equally significant. Naturally, in that case, he could have missed the humor in the joke.

I replied to his reprimand, asking him if the joke was sacrilegious or something. He said, “No, just profoundly ignorant.” That didn’t sound much better than sacrilege to me. I thought about pointing out to him that “profoundly ignorant” was an oxymoron, but decided I’d better not push my luck, especially since I’d not seemed to have much of it so far anyway in this conversation.

But the end result of the whole thing was amazing. For weeks before this I’d been in a spiritual slump. I had no appetite for reading the Bible. I had no faith in prayer, and even the little arrow prayers and praises that used to add salt and pepper to my spiritual life were missing.

My pastor’s response to the spam changed all that. I have no idea why. Maybe because it shed a new, strong light on the influence the internet has in my life. I realized that spam in and spam out had become a regular, unconscious part of my psyche. I began to be aware, not only of what I read every day, but what I, in turn, clutter my friends’ mailboxes with.

So the reprimand has changed me. I’ve decided there are enough frivolous words floating around out there in cyberspace, and I’m determined not to contribute any more to the flotsam and jetsam. I’m using the delete key more often, and sooner—before I read, instead of after—and I’ve slowed down my reaction time before hitting the “forward to” key.

And, glory be!, my taste for the Word of God has revived. I find myself eagerly going to quiet times every morning and every night. The prayers and praises have returned, as well as beautiful calls to intercession resulting in some powerful, eternity-changing conversations with Jesus.

I love it that my pastor isn’t afraid to chide me. We need that kind of pastor. October is pastor appreciation month, and before the month went by, I wanted to say that I thank God for my pastor. He’s a gem, and his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, in this case, has rekindled my spiritual life. It has cleared the junk off the sofa in my heart so there’s room, again, for Jesus to come in and sit down.

Thank you, God, for pastors who aren’t afraid to lecture us.