X0628...............The Pastor: A Good Man, Just a Very Bad Wizard


In all the writing I have done about pastoral authority and the study of ministry from the Bible, there is one comparison to the situation which the church faces that strikes me very much.

Have you ever seen the Wizard of Oz?

I mean the old version, the movie made in 1939, with Judy Garland. I'm sure that all of us have seen this movie, it is truly one of the great classics.

Well there is a certain scene in the movie that is really an amazing analogy to what we are studying here.

Do you remember the part where the Wizard is finally exposed? All through the movie, Dorothy and her friends have been trying to get to see the Wizard. They have gone through all kinds of travail, and at last they meet him. When they do at first, he is an unimaginable and almost frightening figure, veiled in smoke and flames. He seems to have huge authority, huge power. they are awed and frightened when they meet him at first, but as they deal with him they are repeatedly diverted away from what they want and told they must first accomplish what the Wizard asks of them.

finally there is the climactic scene, when they bring up their courage and demand that the Wizard fulfill his promises, and at that very moment, Toto the little dog pulls back the curtain and reveals the fact that the Wizard is actually a normal man. He is not what he seemed to be from their former perspective. He is not the all-knowing, all-powerful "potentate" as they expected, but rather a common man.

they then have conversation that goes something like this:

"You're not a wizard at all, your just a man! And you're a very bad man for pretending to be a wizard!"

and the wizard replies....

"No, I'm a good man, just a very bad wizard.."

this scene is so very much like the truth behind the mythology of the "pastor/priest".

I can remember growing up catholic. The priest of the local church was very much like the wizard of Oz from my perspective as a child. If you ever talked to a priest (which was rare) your heart beat faster, you were very nervous, worried you might say or do something wrong. In the catholic church there is in fact almost the same "bells and whistles that the Wizard of Oz movie has! I can remember the fear that I had the first time I had to go to confession. I felt exactly like Dorothy standing before the Wizard. The priest, behind a back-lit veiled covering, only able to see his outline. The words of my confession could barely come out of my mouth!

Fear and authority and power, all seemed to go together when thinking about or describing the priest.

Where di this all come from?

Simply experience.

the experience of "going to church" is one that is designed to present this one person as having gigantic authority from God. Think about it. In a church service, everyone is silent. No one ever speaks back to this authority or even asks a question. The authority is up in a higher position than you. You literally "look up " to this person from your lower position. You must be there over and over and over again, and do this something. This person (as the ritual demands) has absolute control over what you do--stand up--sit down--kneel--form a line--give money--be silent--say "amen". It is an extremely powerful experience for children to see their parents under this power. To a child the priest/pastor of a church seems every bit like the wizard of Oz.

But the real deeper truth is what Toto reveals.

the Wizard is just an ordinary man, and so, is the pastor.

When people come to this realization, their reaction is often just what Dorothy says..."You're a bad man..."

there are some folks who realize that the pastor and the system of "church" is somehow not right--not what God wants--not what the Bible says to do--not what Jesus did. they may get this feeling from God Himself, or from their own instincts, or possibly from the Bible. And this often leads them to blame those individuals who are pastors. It often leads to hostility toward the "clergy", toward anyone who would put themselves in that position.

But the real truth is just what the Wizards replies....

"No, I'm a good man, just a very bad wizard.."

This is the real truth about pastors and priests.

they are very good men (and lately women). they are good people, who somehow find themselves in the position of "pastor". They wake up one morning and find smoke and flames accompany what they say. That their words are revered and listened to with awe and respect. They find that people treat them as if they have power over them. They fall into a system that places one person into the position of "wizard".

They usually got there because they knew and served another wizard, who they knew to be a "very good man". They may or may not believe they "have authority over" others--but that is immaterial, since they have fallen into a system that creates this illusion. They are the stewards of something they believe to be from God, and protect it , and promote it, and do all they can to meet the expectations that the awe-struck people seem to demand from them. They have learnt to work the pulleys and levers to create the illusion of authority, to raise the veils of smoke and flames which surround every wizard. They may or may not be aware that they are truly just hiding behind a veil, but they somehow know it is so very important they stay behind this veil.

If only Toto could come to church.

If only innocence could be our leader.

We would find some very good men (and women), who are in fact, very bad wizards.

We would find that Jesus is the only Potentate of the church..

1Ti 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;