May 5, 2017

No hierarchy in the kingdom of God

Are pastors held to a higher standard than those who sit in the pews? As teachers of sound doctrine and for wisdom in leadership they are to stand tall:
“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9)
That said, we once were members of a church in California that a writer of an article in a Christian magazine called “the church with 700 pastors.” By the time we attended, the membership was larger but the teaching was the same. The senior pastor held firmly to the following passage, particularly the part I’ve italicized:
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’  . . . . And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:1–16)
This passage reinforces the importance of pastors, yet clearly indicates that the rest of us in the Body of Christ are just as important. We must all do our part for the entire congregation to grow and grow up. We also must speak sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it. We are also priests because we have a responsibility to pray and care for, teach and help one another grow and become more like Jesus.

That church and many others call this doctrine ‘the priesthood of all believers’ and believing it sets a high value on every person who attends. It also plays a part in helping church members live the way God’s Word describes. We need one another and God gifts us to fill those various needs.

Jesus, while each Christian has different gifts, different roles, different energies, and even different ways of looking at things, we realize that by following Your word, we are stronger in our faith and practice and more mature because of it. Reinforce this to my heart. May I be a better servant, but also a better learner.

Note: we are on vacation for the next couple of weeks in a place where the Internet is not completely reliable. I will have devotions each day, and write my thoughts. Whether they get posted that day or not is anyone’s guess!

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