Jesus & Abusive Leaders
I had trouble sleeping last night -- maybe it was something I ate. (More likely it had something to do with the long nap I took after we got home from church.) It's a rare thing that I'm in a good mood or headspace when awake for a lot of the night, and last night was no exception -- my mind and heart were both whirling around the topic of abusive church leaders, and the devastation and shame that they bring.
|(Photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash)|
There's no shortage of examples in the news, although Ravi Zacharias is probably the most recent big one. Hitting closer to home is the ongoing conflict in the church that I was in before I moved to China. Although I've caught only the edges of it, it's been sickening and heartbreaking and infuriating.
So this morning, the reading for Pray As You Go was from Luke 4 -- the passage where Jesus stands up in the synagogue in His hometown, reads the passage from Isaiah, and proclaims that its fulfillment has come. And then He goes on to remind them that prophets have not historically received a warm welcome in their hometowns.
And the leaders of the synagogue don't react with jubilation at the news that this prophecy that they've been waiting for forever is fulfilled. They don't react kindly when He reminds them that prophets in former times went to the Gentiles. They jump straight to "let's kill Him."
For the first time ever I thought about how crazy and traumatic that must have been for Jesus. Sure, He gets into all kinds of controversies with religious leaders for the rest of His ministry -- but there's something different between butting heads with people you don't know and the religious leaders who you grew up with defaming and straight-up planning to murder you. Those were His teachers, His friends... His pastors.
It doesn't fix the problem of abuse in church leadership. It should never happen. It needs to be dealt with.
But somehow, today, knowing that Jesus knows what it's like brings some comfort to my heart.