Have you ever been the recipient of mail that was not addressed to you? I know I have. Even during this past holiday season, I found mail that wasn’t even addressed to me in my mailbox. It was actually for someone who had been the previous resident. I’ve even had some mail come that was for people in another apartment in another building entirely. In times like that, it can be quite frustrating to decide what to do about the mail. Do I do the mail person’s job and take it to the person it belongs to? Do I put it back in the box with a note stating “return to sender?” There are many ways that this can be dealt with. It’s just a matter of what is the most loving and acceptable way of handling each individual piece of mail that ends up in the mailbox.
Like actual mail, pastors have often been likened to being God‘s mail delivery person. The people in the congregation happen to be the intended recipients of the mail that gets delivered. Every once in awhile, that mail is somehow taken by someone in the house and is shown to someone whom the mail was not addressed nor intended for. In other words, what was intended for one person was viewed by someone who was not the intended recipient.
The recent message presented by pastor and gospel singer Kim Burrell sparked a great controversy within the body of Christ and it caused an even greater stir by many outside the body; more specifically, Hollywood and the media. The accusation and outcry that many people touted was how what Pastor Burrell said could in any way be one of love, tolerance, and acceptance. The problem is that many who became offended by her comments have mistaken the reality that love does not always equate to tolerance and acceptance.
How can I say this? Well, suppose you have a home consisting of you, your spouse, and your children. Let’s say one of your children has a habit of stealing from you or your neighbors or some other people. While you yet love that child, do you tolerate their continued acts of theft? What if another of your children was selling or taking drugs? What if your spouse was abusing your children? Just because you love them, do you continue to tolerate and accept that behavior? Odds are, that if you truly love your family, you are going to protect your family from those things that are tearing at the foundation of your family structure.
As a pastor, Kim Burrell made a case of something that was affecting her congregation. To many outside her congregation, that message didn’t sound love because they equate love with tolerance and acceptance. Many within the Church took offense because they looked at the message with the eyes and ears of the world rather than the eyes and ears of the spirit in which it had been delivered. They also took offense to a two-minute clip of a much broader message that had been delivered on the night in question.
There is no question that God loves all of His creation, yet, God had a standard for His chosen people, which now isn’t just Israel but also the body of believers who are now known as Christ followers. That standard was designed so that the world would see the difference in the life of those who at one time followed the Old Testament Law. Now, with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, that standard is based on the Law of Grace which we’re to follow today. Those outside of the body may never understand this standard.
However, if we are to be known by our love, the body of Christ cannot be divided over how the Church self-disciplines. Yet, when a message is taken outside of the house, you open a home to criticism about what happens inside the home. This is more damaging than anything.
I may never understand the methods my neighbors use to chastise and correct their children, just like they may never understand how or why I do what I do in my home. When the show the America’s SuperNanny was on television, there were methods used that seemed foreign to many parents who watched. For the church, the outside world looking in thinks it folly and shameful, even harmful.
As a fellow believer, I had my own questions regarding the sermon that was delivered by Pastor Kim Burrell, but I also know that her message was for those who were in that house. There is no perfect preacher and no perfect sermon except that which was delivered by Christ himself. We need to remember this as Christians. We also need to remember that a house divided cannot stand and as long as the world can continue to give input into what happens in God’s house and stir the pot of confusion and more, it will remain divided. It’s my prayer that the Church will be understanding of Pastor Kim Burrell and stand by her, remember that love doesn’t equate to tolerance and acceptance of any and all things.
QUESTION: What has been your take on this recent event? Should the Church expect the world to understand? Does the world have a right to dictate or give input into what or how a preacher preaches?
- Kim Burrell Calls Gay People ‘Perverted’ Days Before Appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (people.com)
- Megachurch Pastor Andy Stanley Says Christianity Hinges on Jesus Christ’s Resurrection (hinterlandgazette.com)