My friend Toby Sumpter recently tweeted this: “Sometimes a pastor needs to take a man’s baptism & trash it & bury it in front of him & only then will it become true.”
Why would a pastor say something like that? Aren’t we ministers of Word and sacrament? Why would we ever want to trash something that we are ministers of?
We trash the sacraments, when we do, because we are ministers of the Word. We trash the Word, when we do, because we are ministers of the sacraments. We live this way because this is what Scripture, taken in its entirety, requires of us.
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: But the prayer of the upright is his delight” (Prov. 15:8).
God delights in the prayer of the upright, but if a man is wicked, he cannot buy God off through showing up a sacrifice. Not only does God not receive such a sacrifice, He regards it with loathing. The word abomination is a strong one — the sacrifices and liturgical observances of a wicked man cause God to recoil in disgust. And if God recoils in disgust, shouldn’t we also?
A wicked man, just being what he is, presents abominable sacrifices. But wait, he can even make it worse — if he comes with evil intent brewing in his mind actively, how much more of an abomination it becomes.
“The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: How much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind? (Prov. 21:27).
To desire the sacrifices (and the sacraments they typify) to be automatically a good thing is to forget the covenantal realities. It is an attempt to keep Christ in a box. The heart of man is fully capable of polluting whatever he might be offering to God. He does this whenever he thinks that believing the promises and keeping God on a short rope are the same thing.
“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Prov. 28:9).
So this is why a minister might want to trash a man’s baptism, or diligence in communing, or his Bible study skills, or his theological acumen, or his prayer warrior status, or his tithing prowess, or his clerical garb . . . age. Why? So that it might rot in the ground, and rise again to newness of life.