Spiritual Issues | Thoughts

An Attempt to Understand

June 17, 2008

Rick,

I hear what you are saying. Really I do. And the reason it works for you personally is because of your personal standards of righteous living. All of which stems from your relationship with Christ. In the light of your personal interaction with the Body At Large 🙂 it works well. Why? Well, simply from conversations with Jason, our mutual friend, from reading your blog and from interaction such as this I have determined a few things about you. Pardon my presumption…

You on the “outside of normal” works because 1. What you have allowed the Holy Spirit to do in and through you and 2. Because you are willing to submit “one to the other” as the Word tells us.

You haven’t run away from those who would challenge you, you engage and are willing to be changed if necessary. That’s a key in humility that is rare and uncommon… As opposed to rare and common.. DOH!

I know I am only responsible for my own actions on that personal level. My concern/frustration/inability to understand is the plethora of people in the circles I travel who are abusing their leadership gifts and thereby mangling and abusing the younger and weaker sheep around them. Whether in small or large settings it doesn’t matter.

The Word gives us parameters for how to respond to those who do not abide in love, who seek to divide the Body and who use the “ministry” for selfish gain. How does that work outside a corporate group of believers?

As I’m sure you would agree, it’s not about the title, the building, the expectation or the position. Where the battle is won and lost is in the heart of each individual. For “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Right? And yet the Word tells us that whoever seeks the role of an elder seeks a “good thing” and that teachers/pastors/shepherds are going to be held to a higher standard of accountability because they are the ones teaching and discipling (supposedly) the children of G-d!

And who is it that holds them accountable? Their fellow believers. But accountability is a two way street. If you aren’t willing to be held accountable no amount of exposing your need for growth and change will convince you. And when the Holy Spirit is screaming in your life through circumstances and you call it “persecution” and being “misunderstood” we’ve got some pretty big fish to fry, eh?

So, what does this mean when you see “leaders” leaving a trail of carnage behind them and teaching false doctrines? Does this mean you then extricate yourself but leave the rest of the sheep to fend for themselves? Do we have a responsibility to speak out?

My problem? right now is this… I like where I am. I like the sum total of our family worship being that which we find ourselves doing Saturday night simply as the four of us. I like being able to pick and choose my friends, my interaction and my involvement. I like being able to walk away if someone “rubs me the wrong way”. And I could live here happily for a very long time. I could say all kinds of wonderful things about being willing to be held accountable to a standard of righteous living but what happens when someone says something I don’t like? Unless it is my husband or children? I can ignore them, walk away from them, close off to them. I am seeing how personally responsible I am for the way I walk out my faith and it is with “fear and trembling”. If I even for a second don’t keep my mind focused on the reality that I am completely capable, in my flesh, to become one of those who are walking predators in the Body? I allow pride to raise it’s ugly head and I am quickly on the way to becoming one.

Is it judging a tree to recognize it’s loaded with apples? That’s simply recognizing what does and doesn’t exist. There are those who show the fruit of the Spirit and there are those who don’t. What that means for them eternally? Not my problem. Are we to hold one another to a standard of pure doctrine? Absolutely! Hebrews 2:1 tells us if we don’t keep our eyes on Jesus we will “drift away”. And I gotta tell you, there is some WHACKED DOCTRINE out there! And as to determining who someone’s authority is? We all are covered in the Blood and have Jesus as our High Priest, interceding for us at the right hand of the Father. We are to submit to EACH OTHER. The only thing we were not given dominion over at Creation was EACH OTHER. Within the scope of a fellowship there will be those who lead and those who follow. Those who lead are held t o a higher standard because of the propensity of mankind to follow their own desires and not those of the Father.

It’s convoluted and I don’t pretend to understand it all. I’m trying! And from a completely different side of the fence than I have ever been in before.

  • Okay, I spent nearly 45 minutes writing something. But I can’t put all my thoughts into one blog entry, nor do I want to do it on my own blog for fear of being completely misunderstood by people who I know will read it. (Not that I care, I just don’t feel like dealing with that right now.)

    Anyway, I think this conversation is fascinating. Gwen and I have had many talks about what church really is, what leadership means, and how accountability is supposed to work. And it looks nothing like the traditional church.

    I’d love for this conversation to be had in person over a pint!

  • Me too, Jason, except maybe my pint would be Haagen Dazs!

    It’s a very complicated issue, and is difficult to sort out in a post or a comment. I guess the bottom line is always that we are responsible to G-d first, and that entails a responsibility to honestly seek out His will and to listen to His Spirit. So if you are content where you are now, and you are humbly praying and seeking His will, then you are where you should be and that’s the most important thing.

    Order me up a chocolate-chocolate chip, I’ll be right over.

  • Your place or mine?

    That’s the only quibble.

    I’d love to spend time discussing this with you and Gwen… And Sparrow, I know the flights a bear, but you’d definitely be welcome!

  • Sparrow,

    Haagen Dazs sounds great, too!

    Heidi,

    I’m sure it’ll happen sooner than later. Heck, if you and Brian come camping 4th of July…….

  • I agree with Jason, it’s a fascinating discussion. And I agree that traditional modern American church as I’ve known it lately looks nothing like the Early Church. We’ve homechurched for over a year now, and I often feel, like you said, I could camp here forever. But it’s not something I take lightly at all. We are always in prayer over this issue. I understand accountability and fellowship and community…but. But, what’s one to do when there is so much that’s wrong, and we’ve already tried to change the institution from the inside out and it didn’t work and it was very painful?

    It’s hard work, with our busy life, to make sure that Christian fellowship happens outside of “church.” But it’s authentic work. As opposed to a contrived sort of performance that seems to happen in many places on Sunday mornings across America.

    I am nowhere near coming to a conclusion on this, I’m just somewhere between point A and point B.

  • It’s not easy being outside the box. I understand what you are saying. I’ve been there and find myself there off and on. My kids will make a choice I don’t agree with and I wonder, should I rush them to youth group? The answer always comes back no.

    Are we to help build each other up and help each other when we fall? You bet. If someone is messing up, do I tell them? Only if told to by the only one who matters? Is it my job?

    Here’s something I read this morning.

    Whatever judgement you give, it is measured to you again. If you have been shrewd in finding out the defects in others, remember that will be exactly the measure given to you. Life serves back in the coin you pay.Do we believe the statement that what we criticize in others we are guilty of ourselves?The reason we see hypocrisy and fraud and unreality in others is because they are all in our own hearts. Yes, all those things and other evils would have been manifested in me but for the grace of God, therefore I have no right to judge.
    Would any of us stand before God and say, “God, judge me the way I have judged my fellow man”?

    Oswald Chambers.

    When we feel like we must, I think we “must” ask ourselves our motive. Is it really to set them straight (as if we could set anyone straight) or is it merely…..( )you fill in the blank.

    Instead of asking “If I should, or isn’t it my duty? You might ask yourself why I feel the need to get/stay involved. There are people right outside your door waiting for you to serve them. Think of all the time we spend talking or trying to figure God out when we could be reaching out to the guy next to us.
    Just some thoughts.