When I was growing up my image of God was intimately linked to the pastor of our church.
This wasn't something that I could have articulated to you. If you had asked me if I thought my pastor was God, I would have said "no". Nobody needed to pull me aside and set straight a belief that this man was divine.
But when I look back and consider the potential damage if my pastor had told me I was doomed to hell or if Jesus didn't love me (thankfully these things didn't happen), I can see that there were some real problems in their connection. I knew that my pastor wasn't a member of the Trinity, but being the voice of God and being God is so closely tied together that distinguishing between the two was just semantics.
If you grew up in the church and can relate in any way to what I am saying, is it any wonder that we have church trauma in our world today? We need religious teachers in all their forms to be representatives of God or we can carry a deep dread that God is against us.
Jesus knew this deeply and nothing drew out his anger like spiritual abuse. Our confusing systems of church blend too much power of people with the power that rightly belongs to God. In Matthew 21:13 Jesus condemns those selling the sacrificial doves as those who have turned a house of prayer into a den of thieves. Think about that reversal! They have taken something that God meant for relationship and grace and turned it into a mechanism for profit.
And we are still in danger of these same kinds of abuses today. We're capable of them at Cascade. So how do we proceed as a church understanding the power dynamics at play and be on the side of relationship and grace? That's what we're trying to figure out, and we're so glad that you're along for the journey!