Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Experience of Abraham (Part 7) - Faith vs. Finances

My dad was a pastor even before I was born. He had worked here and there in other jobs before he became a pastor, but this was what he had gone to school for and have been doing for all his working life. I remember when we were still in Korea, I would go visit my dad's workplace at the edifices next to the denominational building. It was an office space full of cubicles and in one of those maze-creating boxes was my dad's cubicle. In his office were two picture frames of family pictures, a computer and a bunch of random things. When he was pastoring in Seoul Baptist, he was also an editor for the church newspaper, but besides that, not much else... maybe except for farming, since that's what my dad studied in college. But anyway, what I'm trying to say that giving up his pastorship meant giving up everything we have -- including our income and means of living.

As a pastor, my dad received financial contributions - a stipend, an apartment for us to live in, and a car. That was how we were able to maintain our living in this foreign land of Chile.

Wait, sorry, I don't think I explained why he needed to give up his pastorship. He continued to read materials from the ministry of Brother Witness Lee. And just to make a correction from last time, I think the points regarding local churches (one church one city) came from Revelation 2 & 3 for him, not Acts (although Acts also speaks regarding that matter as well). Anyhow, minor detail. The bible never mentions this matter concerning having a pastor. It mentions apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers, but not pastors. Maybe you are thinking, isn't a pastor and a shepherd and a teacher the same thing? In a sense, yes, a pastor does shepherd his flock and teach them. But on the other hand, you don't need to be a pastor to do that. The Bible, however, also speaks sternly concerning the works of the Nicolaitans. It mentions specifically how much the Lord hates the work of Nicolaitans. What the Nicolaitans did is what is commonly known as the "clergy-laity" system -- having an organizational hierarchy of ones being over others. Pastors probably started out with good intentions, but I feel that just having this title of being a pastor you unconsciously put yourself over others, and others unconsciously put you above themselves.

I do believe on one hand, we need to be under the care and leading of older and more mature brothers before us. On the other hand, God doesn't want a man to mediate His relationship with His own people, does He? Hebrews 4:16 says "Let us come forward with boldness to the throne of grace..." In the Old Testament times, Jehovah established some ordinances with Moses because man had become sinful due to Adam's fall. When man entered into God's presence with his present condition, the glory of God would consume him, because he would not match God's holiness. This is why there was one high priest who could enter the Holy of Holies once a year. However, now in the New Testament, the Lord had rent the veil that separated the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Through the Lord's redeeming death, we now have the position to come to God, with no one but Christ as our Mediator.

I do also have a question regarding pastorship in today's society. When you go through seminary, do all your graduation requirements and write your thesis and turn it in to finally get your diploma and the "right" to teach the Scriptures, who is it that approves you? God? or the human panelists that review it?

Anyhow, I tangented again. So, my dad having realized this came upon a serious dilemma. Here was his family - a wife and two children - that he brought half-way across the globe to settle down in a foreign culture. Here was his job as a pastor that was putting bread on the table for his family and sending his children to school. But here was this reality that he had found and knew that this was it. Nothing else compares to this and comes close to this. In no other denomination or Christian group would he find such. This was truly the Lord's Recovery.

So my dad fasted.

And growing up back then, this period of a week or so still is very vivid in my mind. First of all, dad wasn't home. Second of all, I remember visiting him one day - walking down the steps to the meeting room of the congregation, seeing my dad kneeled on the floor with his face planted upon his hands on a foot-high raised platform. Seeing him and how he was unshaved, and hearing my mom saying "drink some water." Prior to coming in, I had some snacks in my hands that I was eating, but mom told me to leave them upstairs because the smell would have made dad feel hungry.

Of course, I had no idea what was going on at that time. But when I heard this part of the story from my parents later on, I really appreciated what they did. After a week's worth of time, my dad was finally made clear and had the peace to the direction he was about to take. He flew out to Korea, went to the head-pastor of the Seoul Baptist and basically, quit. I thank and praise the Lord, that despite of the fact that he had a wife and two children to feed, my dad chose the path of faith over the necessity of finance. Same with my mom, who knowing this was probably not a very wise decision from the point of view of the world, stood in oneness with my dad and followed his vision all along. 

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