Most people know that pennies dated before 1982 are made predominantly of copper; however, pennies minted after 1982 are composed mainly of zinc with only a thin copper coating in order to give them that deep, gold color we've all come to know and expect. In other words, pre-1982 and post-1982 pennies look the same, but they are substantially different. The former displays its true character and the latter only a veneer.
I woke up yesterday to a news article written by a friend of mine, Julie Roys, who sought to expose one "Dr." Bryan Loritts, a man recently hired by The Summit Church in Durham, NC, to be their executive pastor. According to Julie's article, "Dr." Loritts is not all that he portrays himself to be. For one, he does not have an earned doctorate from an accredited university or college. His only apparent doctoral credential is an honorary one from a diploma mill in Florida. Secondly, Julie alleges that Mr. Loritts was part of a sex-crimes cover-up while he was a pastor in Memphis some years ago. Admittedly, I have no clue if any of this is true, but it has gotten me to thinking...lots of pennies just have copper veneers.
I'm a pastor, and I labor every week to bring a word from God to the people he's called me to shepherd. I try to live my life with integrity, and I try to be the person God made me to be...few frills, little guile, and cognizant of all my faults and failures. Sure, I put on a few facades, but they are pretty minor...and most people probably see through them anyway. For the most part, what you see is what you get!
In today's culture where everyone is calling for authenticity and transparency, you'd think this candid lifestyle and ministry approach would be venerated...respected and desired. But it is not. People still want their superheroes. They still want their silver-tongued bandits--charismatic pastors who make them feel good, who spin humorous tales of self-improvement, and who promise success with the right applications of confidence, work ethic, and strategy. For those of us who offer only a gospel message of growth through suffering, grace through obedience, and strength through release...well...we are relegated to the margins of the contemporary church. We are seen as outmoded relics of a bygone era. The power of our preaching is not measured by our conviction or Truth, but by the laugh track or the tickles we give the ears.
Am I frustrated. You bet I am? But will I quit? You can bet I won't! And why? Because I know what I do every Sunday makes an eternal difference. I'm sure someone is listening. And even if no one is listening, I know God is listening. And I hope he sees a pure penny...copper through and through, because I know...I know...he is no respecter of veneers.