As a child, I was taught to respect my elders, those in authority and those in the community. Children were never allowed to use certain words, nor could we address adults by their first names. In the community, we addressed everyone by either “Mr., Miss or Mrs.” and their first names – but only if we had a relationship with them. Otherwise, it was “Mr., Miss and Mrs. and their last names.
From as early as I can recall, I have been involved in the church. My first church was located a stone’s throw from what used to be the projects in West Dallas. We were very close knit. Quite a few of the members were like family to me, both naturally and spiritually. However, as I look at the state of many local churches today, I’ve noticed a paradigm shift – that has crept in ever so subtly – resulting in a departure from Truth.
Our church attempted to follow Biblically-based doctrine, at all costs. In an attempt to keep the saints accountable to each other, we held church meetings where issues — moral, financial or otherwise — were addressed, discussed and dealt with. Church discipline was conducted according to scripture even to the point of ex-communication, if necessary. We had a senior pastor, assistant pastor, youth pastor as well as youth teachers and evangelists. No matter what the age of the adult, their area of ministry or service or title given them, we called everyone in Christ what they were, a brother or sister, even the pastor! Therefore, it was common for let’s say a five year old to go to the pastor and greet him by saying, “hello Bro. XYZ.” It was fitting, it wasn’t considered disrespectful, nor was it taken offensively. We now see those operating in ministry being glorified as if they’re deity and take offense if they’re not addressed at all times as Bishop, Apostle, Prophet, Prophetess, First Lady or whatever title they or others have bestowed upon them. Anyone who has come into the Body of Christ has become a son of God and joint-heirs with Christ; thus, no one is more esteemed over another, no one!
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among men. We read nowhere in scripture of Jesus promoting Himself or His will, but always the will of the Father. We never read of Christ living an ostentatious lifestyle, never seeking fame or riches. He was about doing His Father’s business. His focus was on building THE KINGDOM of God.
The body of Christ should be seeking FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and He will add to us those things that we need. We have been forewarned that there would be those preaching another gospel and another Jesus. Many have perverted the gospel and have fallen for the prosperity gospel. Churches now give preferential treatment to those members who have significant means and social status. They have assigned parking, assigned seating, and access to the pastor who, in many cases, eventually becomes their personal “spiritual advisor.” People are being taught that those we see prospering must be godly or are receiving God’s favor and those who suffer are either wicked or not in the will of God. Many have been duped into believing that churches need multi-million dollar sanctuaries to promote the gospel, and to accomplish that they tease you by making accommodations in these sanctuaries for bowling alleys, theaters, restaurants and the like (with how busy many of our lives are, I wonder how often you’re afforded the opportunity to utilize those amenities). If we’re focused on building God’s kingdom, it’s simply a matter of each believer looking for ground (i.e., hearts) to plant the seed of the Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work. Pastors seeking to build their own kingdoms have convinced their parishioners that God wants you all wealthy (Hebrews 13:5) – thus aiding in shifting your focus from seeking those things above — and improperly teach III John 2. The word “prosper” in this scripture is derived from a Hebrew word shalom, which we know means peace. Nevertheless, for argument sake, if in fact it did mean wealth, what is the focus of that verse? John is praying that above all things your natural man grows, succeeds or prospers to the same degree as, or in relation to, your soul prospering. Thus, the focus is first on the soul of man. Wasn’t that Christ’s focus? Shouldn’t that be your pastor’s focus; our focus? How is your soul prospering?
Over the course of the next few posts, I will be discussing the purpose of the church, the New Testament prophet and the gifts given the church. Listed below are a few scriptural references to establish contextual foundation for the dialogue to come.
Jesus has given example and instruction:
- (i) of the Principles of the Kingdom and what the life of those in the Light should look like (Matthew chpts. 5-7),
- (ii) of where the focus of our hearts should be (Matthew 6:25-34),
- (iii) that our concern should be as His was – for the soul of others.
The Apostle Paul:
- (iv) describes how Christ, humbled himself, was not concerned about titles or reputation, but took on the form of a servant. The life of the believer is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Thus, our desire should be to imitate His humility (Philippians 2:1-8),
- (v) in I Timothy 6:3-19 Paul gives warnings to pastors and explains what a good minister will be following after; and
James, the half-brother of Christ:
- (vi) discusses in his epistle practical Christian living through our thoughts, motives and acts. If we have respect of persons (James 2:1-9) we commit sin and are convicted as transgressors.
I pray that over the course of these next few readings the cry will be to ask the Holy Spirit to search us, test us and lead us into Truth everlasting.
If God is no respecter of persons, then why are ye?
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. (Deuteronomy 10:17)
© 2012 Belinda Powell