In my early years as a believer, I heard a lot of teaching about “full body ministry.” The teaching was that God gives each one of us who is in Christ abilities to do something well for the benefit of rest of the body of Christ and if we would just function in that gifting all our needs would be met through Christ. Paul wrote:
Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure [Grk. metron] of faith.
Here we see Paul counseling us to think soberly and not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. I have found that in the institutions of men there are very few sober thoughts. As these institutions grow so does the power that is consolidated near the top. Men become drunk on power and true sober thinking goes out the window. Sober thinking is thinking with the mind of Christ who upon finding Himself in the form of a man did not reach for the top, but rather lived in humility and took on the form of a servant and living a life and dying a death for the benefit of all.
The problem with most church institutions is that they have taken on the world’s form of leadership, top down, executive titles, unquestionable authority, etc. Most have the life of Christ organized out of them and have taken on a life that is against the Life which Christ desires to manifest in His saints where He gives each member of His body a measure of the Spirit by which we are to serve one another. The mindset of that system is that the guy at the top (pastor, apostle, evangelist, bishop, C.E.O., etc.) has every ability to do everything that needs to be done and that other people only exist to augment those abilities either through donations or subservient leadership and ministry positions. How opposite this is from how the Spirit moves among us with HIS measures of grace? These measures are given to each member to function not according to the dictates of an office holder, but rather to function according to the will of Jesus where all that is done is done in a mindset of pure servant-hood and laying down of our lives for one another.
Church leaders usually have a metron in which they are gifted by God and they are good at it and gain much attention because of this gifting. But the mindset of the systems of the world takes over and soon it has them trying to minister outside their metron and they fail every time. Not only that, but they take over in an area that God has given to another member of the body in their measure of Christ and now the body is robbed twice. Like all diseases, this infection soon becomes exponential following the example of the head and it is not long until the whole body is dysfunctional and is spiritually dead. It becomes “The Peter Principle” on steroids, simply because each member is not answering to the Head who is Christ and functioning in the measure of grace He has for them. Oh, how we all need the mind of Christ and His cross working in us which gives us the humility we need to truly serve one another in His love.
You make many good points. I firmly believe that the foundational problem in the “church” today is the patterning after worldly institutions. It puts a stranglehold on the moving and true ministry of the Spirit, and squeezes the life out of the body. Once any person or office is esteemed more highly than another, it can only fuel envy, comparison, and every other self-related weakness, and creates a huge disconnect between so-called “laity” and “clergy” that Jesus never intended. Oh how we need a return to His true pattern!
I just read this, and thought it related well….from T. Austin-Sparks:
None of you can be My disciples unless you give up everything. (Luke 14:33 GW)
Nothing is truly established until it has been yielded up and has received the brand of the Cross upon it. Have you got that? Even though that may have been given to you from God, there is still always the danger of something in ourselves impinging upon something that God has given us. We insinuate ourselves into it, and make it ours somehow. This Self! This flesh! Oh, yes, God gives us a ministry and then we get hold of it and become jealous about our ministry and afraid of other people getting in our way and taking our ministry away from us; interfering with our ministry, you see. The flesh comes up in that way and in so many other directions and connections. God does something, and then we come into it. We get into the picture.
Somehow or other this flesh cannot keep itself out of even the things that God does by a miracle. We turn them to the glorification or the gratification of this flesh of ours, and even a thing which God may give – and you are thinking perhaps of different things which God may give – will never be established and confirmed until it has been yielded up and knows the mark of death to ourselves and that is only alive for and unto God, and we are only alive for and unto God in that connection, whatever it may be. The Cross is the way of Life in everything and immediately the Cross is nullified by this thing upon which the Cross says, “No, No!” Immediately anything of that comes up again, we counter the life of that thing, we strangle its life, we limit its life. We not only arrest the progress, but we bring into smallness God’s intention of multiplication. Why cannot God increase? And the answer is clearly and definitely this: that somehow or other man has come into this business of God and turned it to himself. The Cross has not been kept in its place to give God a clear, full, free way.
By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Cross and the Way of Life – Chapter 4
Blessings to you Brother in the Wilderness!
This is the reason the church by and large appears to be “spastic” and “dis-jointed” to anyone with a few ounces of discernment.
The Holy Spirit divides the gifts as HE wills. The problem is, most church goers don’t even know they have a potential gift, let alone share it. Men in authority appoint positions to people without any guidance or direction from the Spirit.
It’s a cryin’ shame to go to services devoid of inspiration and power because of the tight control men have. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman and will not impose Himself where He is not welcome. This is just heartbreaking. Thanks Michael for addressing this travesty.
Your picture says it all. I like the long straw- kinda reminds me of the line I had to get in before I could speak to the pastor in church about a concern I had- usually two to three weeks long! Praise God I found the shortcut in Him!
I think all of us as believers should seriously consider how authority is exercized among believers. Almost every believer who I know who attends “church” still believes God has placed some Christians OVER others and that we are called to obey them.
If God does build churches and elects rulers to rule over men, then those rulers would exercize authority from both their spiritual title and religious position just like any other corporation. On the other hand, if religious institutions are the creation of men then these “leaders” are merely hired to promote the interests of that organization, exercizing the authority of the organization itself upon the members who agree to the terms prescribed. This of course cannot be made synonomous with God’s true authority which despite how men claim it has never been tied to any earthly system of accomplishment, nor would it be promoted or upheld by earthly titles and positions.
Remove man’s institutions and his authority goes down with the ship along with his reputation as well. Oh, to find a man so willing to follow the example of Jesus, who not merely abandoned all for our sake, but beckons His followers in the same train of triumph.
It is not enough to preach the gospel of justification and exempt men from the cross life of identification. Such a man is no friend of Jesus, mankind or of the truth, nor does he possess nor exercize heaven’s authority according to the will of God. That is reserved for the least of these……as they die daily…..as they make themselves of no reputation…..and take no advantage of the precious children of God…..but rather lay down their lives for them.
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Wave, Thanks for your note. Actually, my “writing skills” are a gift from God. I about flunked English and composition in high school. I was in my late 40’s before I started writing with His inspiration. The layout of the blog format was designed for us by a sister who knew how to get around in WordPress and used their design helps.
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Bette, glad that you found us and were blessed. Beside the blog you might like our regular website: http://www.awildernessvoice.com
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Thank you for writing. ALL things are OURS IN Christ as we abide in HIM. It is not up to us to “figure it out.” It is up to us to simply believe and abide IN Jesus as His branches in the True Vine of the Father. It is here in Papa’s rest that ALL things become ours as His sons and daughters. THIS is what true faith really is. I just wrote this on another blog…
Sister it is before His throne that I get my information as I listen to the voice of the Spirit who is the earnest of our inheritance IN Christ. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15 RSVA).
God bless you as you seek His face and feed His flock the manna which is ours IN Christ.
Michael, Can these WordPress blog posts of yours be reblogged here on WordPress, or posted on FaceBook, (with full acknowledgement of authorship), without your permission for each repost, or do you require express permission for each time one is posted? Just asking because people need to know this good stuff!
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Yes you may repost them, only include a link to the blog or our web site where they came from. Thanks for asking, Scarlett.
“Freely you have received, freely give.”