“Aren’t pastors supposed to help me in my relationship with God?” asked a friend of mine before she explained how one pastor had snapped at her for her on-again-off-again addictive behaviours. Another had made judgmental remarks that shamed her before others and made her feel unaccepted and devalued. The one pastor she had liked and trusted the most moved to another church leaving her feeling abandoned. As a pastor myself, I winced as my friend named one disappointment after another with her former pastors.
Many, like her, who have high expectations of their pastors often end up disappointed. In Hebrews 7:11-28, the writer notes that although the priests in the Old Testament represented God to people and people to God, they were imperfect and not able to help provide lasting access to God. The priests were sinful men who had to offer a sacrifice for their own sins before they could offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. And there was no continuity in them as each one of them died and was replaced.
But Jesus, the writer of Hebrews stresses, is superior to all these imperfect priests.
He is the High Priest like Melchizedek who has come as promised in Psalm 110 to help us in our relationship with God. He has no need to offer sacrifices for His own sins, as He has none. He also has no need to keep offering sacrifices for the sins of the people for His one sacrifice on the cross is perfect and complete. Jesus, the High Priest, could do what the old priests could never do, namely give us a perfect, direct and lasting access to God.
Friends, although God specifically gifts and calls some to be pastors of His church – all God’s people are holy priests (1 Peter 2:5,9). You, I and every single person in the Church are called to represent God to people and people to God. But, the reality is, even in our best performance, we still fall short of some expectations.
In other words, as people, we will continue to disappoint and be disappointed.
However, the good news is that Jesus is our Perfect Pastor. God knows our shortcomings and has sent Jesus the perfect priest to help us in our imperfections. Jesus is our better hope, through whom we have perfect, direct and lasting access to God and in whom we can draw near to Him.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Samuel Williams is co-founder & content director at Fluid. He is also the teaching pastor at Avenue Community Church in Toronto, Canada.