I read a blog post yesterday by a pastor. He claimed he was mad as Hades and not gonna take it anymore! Right off the bat, I felt sorry for the man who can't say mad as hell. Anyway, he was Hades-mad because people insist on calling him reverend. He said the word is not a noun, but an adjective, and everyone from Jordan Cooper and Charles Gibson to the people in his own neighborhood constantly use it incorrectly. He's correct in his grammatical analysis; the word describes someone deserving of reverence. His facts are right, but, as you well know if you've ever read anything here at The Shame, the facts often have little to do with the truth.
His wrath-from-Hades reached climax when he indicated he might be a pastor, or a minister, or even a member of the clergy, but he is nobody's reverend! As a post-script, he added that the whole thing sticks in his craw. The man can't stand the salt-of-the-earth word reverend, but then turns around and tells us of his craw.
Now these blog posts are short little ditties, written by a variety of people in the world of religion, designed to get folks thinking, generate discussion and such. I understand that. And I'm also quite certain that this pastor writes with a little tongue-in-cheek, although his tongue is probably as red as Hades. I get that too.
I posted a comment on the blog that went something like this; the pastor's name is changed to protect the mad as Hades and I inserted my own, such is my affection for myself:
What if, when God refers to you, he says reverend John? As is, deserving of reverence John? As in, my beloved, in whom I'm well pleased John? As in, the pinnacle of my handiwork John, the apple of my eye? What if God talks that way about you? Would it still make you mad as Hades? There's pretty good scriptural grounds that he does. I'm just sayin', rev.
Wanna know something that makes me madder'n'hell? When pastors or ministers or clergy or reverends, even with tongue somewhat in cheek, propagate the belief that we're schmucks, wretches, lower'n a snake's belly, not deserving of anything, nothing more than sinners saved by grace, specks of dust in this whirling dervish called life; nobody's stuck in the craw of God. I'm not advocating the Jesus is my boyfriend stuff found in many worship tunes these days. But I am advocating a reverence for ourselves which has its origin in the furious love of God. And if we are able to accept that reverence, we might, just maybe, be able to extend that reverence to others and treat them with the dignity and respect that God intended.
But that's not easy. We don't love ourselves; hell, most of us don't even like ourselves. The path of least resistance is raising the megaphone at the weekly pep rally and screaming I'm nobody's reverend! and neither are you!
Dear Reverend, may you experience the unashamed love of God this day. May each step you take be as if you're walking through fields of play. May you come to believe, one breath at a time, of the reverence you deserve, not because of you, yourself, but because of him, Godself. May all the Hades that fills your words be driven into a herd of pigs who then plunge headlong into the sea. May your craw be empty, your heart light, your eyes sparkly, and your life a picture of reverence both for yourself and for those who call you reverend. Those incorrect grammarians are trying to tell you something true; believe it.