The Church Should Be An Egalitarian Community
As fast as we could get things under control, we did. We created structures, hierarchies and political systems in an effort to consolidate some kind of power and influence while at the same time keeping others from having either. We threatened people with hell, excommunication and shunning establishing our ruling priest class from the rabble.
In our present day context we try to intimidate by posting degrees and titles next to our names. Anyone who’s been to college, university or seminary knows that ENDURANCE, not WISDOM or things like LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GENTLENESS OR SELF-CONTROL leads a person to titles and degrees. Recently I overheard one brother confronting another brother about behaviour that the first felt was inappropriate, ill-advised and potentially damaging to the church. The other brother’s response was, (and I wish I was joking) “Until you’ve done something as big as what I’ve done you’ve got no business challenging me!” Can you imagine if Martin Luther had realized this “spiritual principle”? We’d all still be saying the Rosary.
If we have something that someone can take away from us, it’s NOT the Kingdom of God that we’re building.
We must be creating, by the grace of God, a community where there isn’t a distinction between gender, race, economic or social status when it comes to having a voice in the community.
I think that, in part we are reaping what was sown. For a long time the Church treated leaders like hirelings to be used and abused at will. As my friend Tim has surmised, boards and other governmental structures looked at paid workers (pastors, etc.) and said, “If you’ll work that cheap you must not be able to make it in the real world.” and treated us as they would the busboy, dishwasher or school janitor. Maybe “substitute teacher” is a closer comparison.
Now the pastor types have figured out that we can protect ourselves from all that by going back to the good old days and using words like “covering” and “spiritual father” in nonsensical ways (that are also non-biblical) to try to regain control, and insulate ourselves from hurts.
Simple question, did Jesus insulate himself from hurts? Did Jesus ever play the, “I’m the freakin’ Lord!” card and tell his disciples that if they didn’t submit they were in rebellion? Did he warn Judas that he wouldn’t be under his “covering” any more or did he encourage him to do what he was planning to do?
We must create a community of equals where each person can look the other in the eye and ask anything, challenge anything, say anything without fear of rejection or reprisal. We must be able to “push back” when we get “pushed” without feeling like we’ve just started the journey out of community. We’ve got to try to be more like God (Ro. 2:11) and stop pretending that He’s established some structure that affords political power – rather than practical leadership. Equal relationships should be our goal, brothers and sisters who only bow to Jesus.