I was reading Jeremiah during my alone time at Atlanta Bread Co yesterday when a verse jumped off the page at me. 5:31 says: “The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. but what will you do in the end?”
This struck me as a really powerful thought. Too often today pastors rule in their own power. The non-denominational movement has created scores of churches that have no oversight. Many churches today have no oversight by anyone but those who attend the church. While dangerous, this would be acceptable were it not for the fact that often God is not allowed to rule over the church either. This is the greatest treachery. We must never forget that the church is His church, not ours, and that we as pastors are only undershepherds, working diligently for the master. We are to rule faithfully according to Scripture, not according to our desires.
Unfortunately, one of the things that makes faithful ruling and pastoring difficult is that according to Jeremiah 5:31, God’s people love it when a man rules apart from God’s oversight. Note that it’s not just people in general that don’t appreciate God’s oversight, but God’s own people. How sad that these people are the ones who reject the Lord as their ultimate ruler and elevate man to the status of God. We see this daily as mega-church pastors create huge followings with nothing more than self-help fluff. Why do people flock to such teaching? Simply because it caters to their sinfulness. Without realizing it, many well meaning pastors fall prey to Satan’s deception and teach in their own power instead of faithfully exegeting and applying the Word.
My prayer is that I may remain faithful, never ruling in my own power. The last line of v. 31 offers a somber assessment: God’s people love it this way, “but what will you do in the end?” We must always keep eternity in perspective, for it is at the end that we must give an account of our lives and our ministry. The end of a people who elevate a false prophet, a priest or pastor who rules in his own authority, or any other thing that rejects the Lordship of Christ is an end of great sadness and despair: the very end we are called as pastors to prevent. I must remain faithful to my calling, for He who called me will be faithful