Maybe it is our natural-born propensity for idol worship. Or the cult of personality that our American society succumbs to on a daily basis.
In modern Christianity, we love to love our rock star/Podcast pastors. Not that any would accept that moniker outright. But they are on a stage. In front of adulating thousands. With a semi truck of best-selling merch and CDs. In some cases they are even asked to autograph Bibles….and babies…..Ok not really.
But I am guilty of this.
I have a few sermon jam faithfuls I’ll crank up as I lull off to Sleepytown. If I see a Piper or a Chandler headlining a respective event my interest gets piqued by 63%. Even though it is a gospel message I want to hear from them, sometimes I wonder if I’m treating the Holy Spirit like a little fairy that sprinkles its anointing dust a little more liberally on men who are in my ITunes queue.
So we’ll spend hundreds of bucks, travel hundreds of miles, and devote an extended weekend of our time to go hear these super apostles of our modern faith wax to thousands. But we (ME!) can hardly rub out the eye boogers and roll out of bed before 9AM to hop down the road to hear a local ordinary shepherd minister to us weekly in the flesh.
The Podcast pastor has commentaries, conferences, and well, podcasts. That local stiff has awkward jokes, a dead blog, and bad breath when he tries to pray over your family at the altar.
Slick marketing and our own fallen flesh have made a Podcast Pastor who is not real. Shepherds don’t exist from afar, in comfortable digital seclusion, safe from the sheep they are shepherding. First and foremost, the only way to truly Shepherd is to be. with. the. sheep. Carrying the sheep with broken legs, wrestling out the one’s stuck in mud, warding off wolves with ulterior motives. Try doing this from the sanitary confines of a conference stage…the professional lighting is so blinding you can’t even see the sheep from there…
Don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble here: But Platt/Piper/Giglio/Stanley/MacArthur/Driscoll/Chandler/etc. don’t know you, and they’re not the ones that have been entrusted to personally feed you and care for your spiritual well being. I bet their poop stinks too, just like yours.
It’s not the podcast pastors who are the problem (of course I’m a hypocrite and would love to be one). It’s the fanboys like me who construct a false idol out of them that never errors, always loves, and has an inerrant grasp of the hypostatic union. These aren’t real men with real ministries we’ve made, they are nice clean Stepford Pastors.
Shepherding, and the local church for that matter, is messy business.
And Jesus, the ultimate Shepherd, revealed God’s unwavering personal love for the messiest souls. The blood and dirt at the foot of the cross is a good place to get clean.
I’m almost positive God has entrusted a local pastor over your care somewhere in your neck of the woods. The dude’s not perfect. Neither are you.
This Sunday, how about giving him a mint and thanking him for choosing to get down and dirty with you? I bet that’s what your PodCast Pastor (and better yet, Heavenly Shepherd) would want also.