I was greeting people the other day after church when a mother told me she wanted her young daughter to meet me. I said, “Great.” She brought her child over and since she was a little shy and had her hand on her mouth, the Mom said, “Take your hands off your mouth, you’re talking to the pastor.” I immediately reacted, saying something like, “Oh now, don’t do that. I want her to look at me as a normal person.” Someone who was standing by saw the opportunity to say, “Normal?” And laughter ensued…

Well, I guess that if you want to take that conversation in that direction, there is enough that can be said about how “normal” anyone of us really is. There is a famous story written by Brazilian literary icon Machado de Assis, that features a Psychiatrist who built a hospital where he started admitting everyone who exhibited signs of abnormal behavior. After a while, he noticed that he had the whole town committed, so he quickly discharged everyone and admitted himself so he could study more carefully the genesis and cures for his own lunacy.

But that is not the direction I wanted to take that conversation. I wanted the Mother to avoid conveying to her young daughter the idea that I was somehow so far above the rest of the people to whom my sheer presence should elicit a different type, perhaps more “proper” behavior. That’s why I only rarely introduce myself to people as being a “pastor.” I don’t want their walls to go up. I don’t want them to somehow believe they can’t be their real selves when speaking with me. The ecclesiastical title confers me no exalted status, no “holier than thou” position.

This week, we will close out the series we’ve called “Picture (Im)perfect,” and if there is one thing I want you to take away from this study, it is the fact that we at one point were ALL broken people whose lives were radically changed by an encounter with the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. When it is all said and done, we, myself included, are all sinners saved by grace.

We all must be like the apostle Paul when he encountered people who were far away from God in the city of Lystra in Acts 14. After they gave him a demonstration of their rampant paganism, instead of saying, “You are a bunch of ignorant pagans who still believe it is okay to offer sacrifices to other humans,” he said, “We are only humans like you.” In other words — we are no better and no worse than you. We are all in need of a rescuer. And then he went on to tell them about the nature of the true God who can rescue us one and all. Though called to a higher standard and motivated by a higher calling, we pastors are also humans like all. We too are made of clay and can also tend to stray, were it not for God’s supernatural enabling in our lives.

I hope to see you Sunday. You will not only enjoy a review of what we learned through this series, you will also be introduced to a final character in our study that might be totally surprising to you.

Have a great weekend,

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade