Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Pastors and obedience

Published:Sunday | September 27, 2020 | 12:06 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston - Sunday Gleaner Writer

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

– John H. Sammis

In an article published in THE STAR on August 7, it was reported that an outbreak of the coronavirus in two Clarendon communities had been linked to the actions of members of religious organisations who had failed to observe established protocols implemented to control the spread of the virus.

The story alleged that an infected pastor who had returned from overseas disobeyed the 14-day quarantine rule and went straight to church, resulting in several members of the congregation contracting the dreaded virus from him.

Disobedience on any level is wrong, but when pastors who are charged with the responsibility to lead God’s flock blatantly flout the law, this can have a negative impact on the church.

Followers trust them to guide and to give responsible leadership. Family and Religion reached out to Pastor Ann Marie Richards of Voice of Victory Ministries, the Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic, May Pen, to weigh in on the matter.

Richards was resolute as she made it clear that it is always better to be obedient to the Word of God, whose design is by order, than to pay the price for disobedience.

Quoting Proverbs 10:17, she shared: “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.”

Richards expressed disappointment in the errant pastor who failed to obey the quarantine rule, as well as the head of the church, who allowed him to minister there without observing the protocols, stating that it is biblical that pastors and all citizens of a country should obey the laws of the land.

She pointed to Romans 13:1-2, quoting, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

Richards said she is concerned about the situation with the novel coronavirus, which is why she ensures that everyone who goes to her church observes the safety protocols. Her congregants, she said, are aware that they must have their temperature tested and maintain social distance while at church.

She said she is disappointed that the pastor did not have the diligence to exercise more caution.

Richards, in zoning in on the act of disobedience, said it carries consequences not just for the person who disobeys, but for those it will affect – in this case, the most obvious consequence being the spread of the virus.

More serious than that, she said, pastors are looked upon with a certain amount of respect, and they must never allow their actions to send the wrong message to others who are looking to them for guidance, leadership, and a timely word.

“For if we walk contrary and in disobedience as others, what right do you have to counsel them, minister the Word of God to them, or teach them?” she asked, adding that pastors’ duties as servants of God are to build confidence so that others in need of good and right direction can come to them for help and guidance.

There is also the question of one’s true commitment to God. “If you can’t obey the laws of the land, which He stipulates in His word, then who are you really following?” Richards asked.

Stressing that it is very important for leaders to be examples of the Word and laws of their country, she said pastors should strive, more than anyone else, to set the bar even higher for themselves.