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THE SPIRIT OF COMPETITION IN THE MODERN CHURCH
Note- As I re-post my past books/studies, my goal is to build up the Body of Christ. I try to edit my studies as much as possible, to remove things that might offend- needlessly. So as you read please keep this I mind. I do believe the books/studies still have value to them, or I wouldn’t post them at all. So as you read- keep this in mind. The intent in the long run is to be a blessing- and to build you up, the Pastors, leaders in the church, and all the people of God. John
Over the years while working with brothers who were addicts or ex-cons we would spend a lot of time just fellowshipping and spending time together as friends. Jesus was actually accused of being a friend of sinners. This accusation seemed to imply that it was all right to view people as a thing to be ministered to, but to actually befriend sinners was a violation of the religious world of separation between sinner and saint. The religious mind views people as a resource pool to accomplish ministry goals. People are viewed as being expendable. I have often seen the example used where if people are in the way of accomplishing religious goals then you must avoid them. While the principle of not allowing critics to stop us from accomplishing God given goals is important, yet we must put in perspective that the actual city/building that God desires to build is the community of people herself. Many times while working with these friends of mine we would run into or have experiences where other pastors would interact with them in efforts to ‘get them into their church’. Some would visit one church or another and then later tell me how the one pastor would be offended that they went to the other ‘church’. They seemed to be able to see right through the church games that these men were playing.
The goal of these well meaning pastors was to get people to go ‘to their church’ which in many of these scenarios simply meant attending a building to listen to someone preach. If the many ‘churches’ are simply competitive lecture halls from which men find personal fulfillment by having people come and listen, then in these scenarios the struggle or guilt that we put on people to make them come is an actual violation of the true church, which after all is made up of all these various believers in our communities. I am not saying that in all of these types of situations that there are never legitimate expressions of church, but the actual spirit of this type of thing goes on a lot in the average city. The people can fall into mindsets of where their simply being viewed as tools to accomplish religious goals. In the New Testament the mindset of ministry and ‘church planting’ had nothing close to this sort of attitude. The New Testament Churches were simply communities of people who gathered around the reality of Jesus. In these communities church was a daily way of life, it was not focused around meetings at all.
This is why I take issue with the strong house church emphasis that actually sees a pattern of ‘house church’ as the only legitimate expression of church. This is the same mistake as the building centered approach. They are both focusing on the wrong thing, where the people meet. The focus in the New Testament is not on where or even how they meet, but the emphasis is on the reality of all the believers in any given location as being the corporate expression of Christ in all types of situations. The fact that Christ lives in all of us is the great mystery. It’s really insignificant in my thinking on exactly how we meet. Now I know that some styles are better than others. For instance a meeting where all the believers function by sharing and caring for one another is much more edifying, but the daily reality of Christ manifesting through us as we interact in community is the true church. This obviously includes our meetings, but like I said earlier the New Testament thrust was preaching the gospel to people. It wasn’t on setting up meetings at all. The meetings were a simple outgrowth of true church life. When we loose the reality of this we digress into this competitive approach that causes pastors to compete with one another in a childish way. Paul told the Corinthians that their sectarian attitude to gather around the personas of men was a sign of their immaturity.
I can’t believe how immature we are in our thinking. I was having a discussion with a mature leader in the church and when I shared some of these truths he actually said ‘my pastor knows how to spot wolves who try to come in and harm us’ [or something to that effect] the feeling I got was he was feeling threatened. Now this was a mature believer in his 50s[I’m 43 as I write this book]. The reason I say this is because it seemed so unnatural for a mature saint to even use the term ‘my pastor’. In the body of Christ there are many different gifts, some are apostles others prophets, some evangelists, but out of all these gifted ones it would be highly unscriptural to refer to any of these in this way. Just try it, do you feel comfortable saying ‘my prophet’ or ‘my apostle’ then why do we think ‘my pastor’ is not indicative of our immature thinking. I am not advocating the doing away of this term [pastor] but this language should cause us to rethink our immature ways of seeing church. Church is not an endless series of religious meetings whereby people ‘attend’ in order to listen to bible words being spoken. The practical instruction and teaching that are operating in any healthy group of people will allow there to be room for the functioning of all the people in the group. This codependence that we’ve developed with the emphasis on one persons persona is in direct violation of the function and flow of New Testament thought.
The phenomena of one person being the primary voice and expression in the group [ecclesia] are an immature result of not rightly discerning Christ’s body. When people are together at social functions there is usually at least one person who has had a few drinks. You can identify that person by the way he acts. He wants to dominate the conversation, if you try and talk back he’ll cut you off because he derives enjoyment when the conversation centers around himself. He actually feels good about being the predominant voice in the group, to the exclusion of every other voice! I don’t know if we realize it or not, but in many modern church scenarios this is what the world sees. They frankly don’t want to ‘go to church’ because it has become an environment where one person is doing all the talking, and a lot of times it’s about him! People are tired of this. Our conversation [more than one person speaking] should revolve around the person of Christ as opposed to the persona of any one person.
Grasping the biblical truth of leaders choosing between effective ministry or ministry for the honor of men is a hard pill to swallow if you are involved with the ‘honor of men’ mode at the present time [if you are now reading this and it describes you!]. What I want us all to see is that it takes true courage to walk in truth in every generation of believers from the 1st. century until today. There were many well-meaning Christians during the time of the reformation who were serving God as priests in the Catholic church. Many felt it to be a disruption to go on in the new truths of the reformation [justification by faith] and simply remained faithful to God in the majority position of their day. These priests were still Christians [for the most part] and many of them sincerely followed Christ to the best of their ability without embracing the new truths that God was bringing forth in their day. I mention this because there are many well-meaning brothers in Christ who see the things in this book as truth, but choose to stay in the majority system of contemporary church and will continue to be used by God to a degree. The real question for us is do we want to be a part of ‘modern reformation’ or just be faithful to the system [after all our brothers have been doing it this way for years!].
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Note- Please do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on- Copy text- download video links- make complete copies of my books/studies and posts- everything is copyrighted by me- I give permission for all to copy and share as much as you like- I just ask that nothing be sold. We live in an online world- yet- there is only one internet- meaning if it ever goes down- the only access to the teachings are what others have copied or downloaded- so feel free to copy and download as much as you want- it’s all free-
Note- I have many web sites- at times some question whether I’m a ‘bot’ because I do post a lot.
I am not a ‘bot’- I’m John- so please- if you are on the verge of deleting something- my contact email is email@example.com - contact me first- thank you- John