There’s a lot going on within Christianity today. God seems to be working overtime shaking things up, denying anyone a status-quo , making sure believers know what they believe and why. It has much to do with our relationship with each other as believers. I honestly believe that one of the things becoming clearer and clearer to me is that internal politics, hierarchy, and egotism have no part to play in Christianity amongst believers.
As always, definitions first, and thank-you to Dictionary.com. Politics: 1) the science or art of political government. The politics I’m talking about here are formal politics; the control and manipulation in a hierarchical setting of the individual members of an organization. Hierarchy: 1) any system of persons or things ranked one above another. Notice in this definition that the emphasis is on a ranking “one above another.” Egotism: 1) excessive and objectionable reference to oneself in conversation or writing; conceit; boastfulness. 2) selfishness; self-centeredness; egoism.
I hope, dear reader, that you are starting to get a sense of my point. The idea of hierarchy is addressed several times in scripture. The apostles themselves were not originally above jockeying for position, fighting amongst themselves to see who was the preeminent disciple. Jesus made His point even more clear by stooping physically to wash the feet of his friends and disciples. There is no “above” position in the body of Christ, besides Christ being the head of the church, and also the foundation. We are to serve one another even while we, as individuals, are called to certain positions. We are indeed called to different things; preachers, teachers, evangelists, deacons, elders, etc… but these things are organic to the body, not hierarchical in nature…I should say, “these things SHOULD be organically understood, not hierarchical.”
Listen to Peter: 1 Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Christ is clearly the cornerstone, and we are all stones of the same house, we are all a holy priesthood. One has to watch, in any church, a hierarchical structure that places one “type” of believer over another, whether it be a protestant church such as Lutheran, UMC, etc… or the Roman church system with the Pope, cardinals, etc… that are over, and “ordained” above the other believers in Christ. The actual, biblical positions mentioned in scripture are ones of servitude, even the “teaching” positions. Even “servants” are not “below” other members, but rather we are all on the same level and should lean on one another and rely on each other.
1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Notice the context of these passages; they are about Spiritual gifts; the emphasis is on the fact that we are all part of the body of Christ, each important. When there is emphasis on position, the emphasis is on the gift, NOT the person. Again, notice it talks of coveting the best gifts, not coveting the position. Why? Because the better gifts serve the whole body. Formal hierarchy, such as we see in secular circles that have invaded church consciousness, separates the “leaders” from the rest of the people. Hence, formal hierarchy breeds politics, and a quest for power within whatever system is set up.
Egotism is also rampant in the church amongst leaders and members both. There is this odd emphasis on certain “famous” individuals instead of on the message. Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and the like are the focus of news stories, books, TV shows, etc… The Pope gets the attention in the Roman church. There is a centering on the self. What kind of floors me is the fact that we still have people struggling to make a name for themselves by finding the next gimmick or the next new marketing tool…there is nothing new under the sun. Pastors out there desire not just to teach the flock the Truth from scripture, but a truth that no one has ever discovered, something they can pat themselves on the back about. Also, there is a horrible trend of the leadership totally abandoning humility, and also self-awareness. It can become easy for the leadership to play the “I’m a better Christian” game.
There is just as much egotism amongst the congregants of many churches. Legalism, backstabbing, gossiping, judgmentalism, etc… springs from pride. Our call is to love God and love one another; in fact Christ is clear that when the world sees these things they will know we are HIS disciples. If we have not love, we are clanging symbols. Love doesn’t boast, it isn’t proud or self-serving. Love serves others, and focuses on God. If Christ is to be our ultimate role model, isn’t that what we see most in Him? Love God, Love our neighbors. Servant-hood. Brotherhood. Egotism picks at people, it constantly says, “I could do better than so-and-so” with pride and very little action, if any.
This is by NO means a call to a social gospel, or a call for churches not to have pastors or church boards; it is a call to view it all a little bit different. How much momentum is lost by all the gossip, infighting, playing politics, and competition in our churches? Isn’t that a sad thing? Supporting one another, learning together, praying for one another in sincerity (not fake one-upsmanship), focusing on the word and on God, worshiping together, studying together, eating together… If anyone here thinks I’m putting myself above all this; I’m not, I need to hear this type of thing and to read scripturally accurate articles and sermons about such too. I do believe we’ve been given a lot to think about by what is happening across Christendom, so let’s think about it, pray about it, pray for one another, search scripture, and discuss it with kindness and humility!
1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. 7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?