It was with the heart of a child that I went to church that night. We sat in the balcony, because there was no room left below. Before the pastor started the sermon he talked to the congregation about the life of the church community, available Bible studies and upcoming rummage sales. Then he told a joke. It started out with the song bipolar people sing at Christmas (I can’t remember the punch line) and it ended with “Schizophrenics sing, Do you hear what I hear?” From ajourneywithyou.com, Jesus was Nowhere to be Found
The author of A Journey with You went on to say that the pastor was a powerful man in the community. (Read her post when you’re through here because it is excellent.) And it struck me that there are pastors who are church leaders and there are pastors who are community leaders and then there are pastors who follow Christ.
The ones who follow Christ don’t exalt themselves, they stoop to wash feet.
They don’t worry about salary packages because the One they follow had no place to lay His royal head.
They don’t care who gets the credit because it’s the mission that matters.
And that’s why the volumes and volumes that are written about church leadership kind of annoy me.
Jesus didn’t appoint leaders.
He appointed servants. He looked at a crowd of hungry people. His disciples said, “Send them home so they can get something to eat.” Jesus said, “You feed them.”
Salome caught up with Him as He and His followers were walking down the road, got into the begging position and asked Jesus to seat her sons at his right and left in His kingdom.
Jesus called His disciples together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In Revelation 19, after John heard the great multitude in heaven shouting “Hallelujah” over Babylon’s defeat, he fell at the angel’s feet to worship him.
“But [the angel] said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.’
Apparently there is no hierarchy, no leadership, no one to be worshiped in heaven apart from the Trinity.
Look it up. Jesus appointed no leaders.
Paul appointed leaders. But Paul wasn’t God. I’ve been in enough blog discussions to know that some people give Paul the same authority as they do God, but I don’t. Paul was a mere mortal and he grew up steeped in the ways and structures of the Pharisees. Old habits die hard.
We start a church and the first thing we do is appoint leaders, make a flow chart, establish a hierarchy.
Jesus started a church and the first thing He did was feed people.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Church = ekklēsia – a compound of ek and kaleo
ek – out of, from, by, away from
kaleo – to call; to call aloud, utter in a loud voice; to invite; to call i.e. to name, by name
Jesus’ s church looked nothing like ours. His was not a hierarchy of priests, pastors, deacons and elder boards. He did not hand out programs outlining strictly scheduled worship.
He just went around and did stuff with a collection of those He had called out of the world and into an exclusive relationship with Him.
The last thing He did was feed people.
His parting words to Peter? “Feed my sheep.”
Wally over at Truth in Palmyra has been talking for a few days about Jesus’s letter to the church at Laodicea. A letter to a CHURCH who had apparently shut Him out.
Perhaps the insensitive, non-apologetic, joke-telling pastor in Rebecca’s story was like those Laodiceans. Perhaps he was a church leader and a community leader but, as Rebecca so eloquently concluded, not a servant of the Revolutionary I follow.