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1 Peter 5:1-4—“ The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

            Why V.’s mother left an eight-year-old unsupervised in his room with the door closed for a lengthy half hour that afternoon is beyond me, but there I was, and I wasn’t very happy about it.  I was instructed to play with the toys while V. and his mother met with a gentleman who had just come to the door, whom I guessed was a salesman.  I didn’t know how long I’d be cooped up in that windowless, dimly lit room in their basement home.  I talked to myself loudly enough to be heard through the door, and I swore like a sailor.  Prolific profanity was nothing to V. and me. 

            So it was that I didn’t feel uncomfortable that afternoon carrying on in the presence of my friend’s company.  The uneasy feelings came soon enough.  After the mysterious guest had left, V.’s mother scolded me for swearing and said she would tell my mother what I had done.  Their guest had been their Methodist minister.  Oddly enough, I only felt a little bit guilty and embarrassed for having been caught.  At that age I wasn’t yet born again.  That wouldn’t happen until I was 16.  Our family didn’t attend church regularly at that time, so I didn’t know enough to be influenced by reverence for a clergyman and what he represented.

            I never felt comfortable around ministers, as they’re called in many mainline denominations, including the dead Presbyterian church my family eventually attended.  They’re not called Pastor, Preacher, or Brother So-and-so.  They’re Reverend This or That, and they were never addressed by their first name.  The ones I’ve known were born old and were  at least retirement age or beyond.  They should have been put out to pasture long ago.  Maybe small town churches get the worn out leftovers from somewhere else.  It was hard for me to imagine such men ever had a glorious career anywhere.  Furthermore, they always wore a goofy robe when preaching their vague, 20 minute sermons, which were void of the Gospel.  Being “the Reverend”, each was the only person supposedly with the authority to  pray in public.  After all, there were just certain things laymen mustn’t do.  You can imagine my bewilderment when I first learned that high government officials in many countries abroad are called ministers.

            There’s one thing in hindsight that I do like about those church ministers.  I don’t know if it’s still true today, but back then they came around every now and then to visit the members of their congregations in their homes.  Our Presbyterian minister came to our home occasionally, though I don’t remember anything about the visits.  However, just weeks before I was saved, while I was hospitalized after surgery, our minister came to see me.  It was quite awkward.  Neither of us knew what to say.  After some idle chit chat and a generic prayer, he left, much to my relief.  He simply didn’t know how to share Scriptures as pastors I’ve known since.   At least he endeavored to live up to his calling.

            In recent years I’ve belonged to some fairly decent Bible believing churches.  When I’ve left over differences, no one stopped by to talk.  Too bad.  I would welcome it.

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