Thursday, 11 March 2010

do not be called leaders

I am still thinking about the similarities between the early churches and the early internet and my morning reading brought me to Matthew 23.

The New Testament has a whole bundle of words which indicate 'masters' of one kind or another. Vine's Expository Dictionary has a whole page for 'masters'. You can check it out here Our word here is Strong's G2519 - kathēgētēs Can we 'fine tune it'? I think we can. The Greek prefix 'kata' often has the sense of 'thoroughly' so this is a strengthened form of 'master'. Like Father or Rabbi it is the 'top of the tree'. Jesus told his apostles that they were not to allow others to refer to them as 'the teacher', 'the father' the leader'. Leadership is a biblical concept but we must be careful not to take our models from industry or the military; that is not the kind of 'leadership' that the scripture has in mind. Perhaps a better word might be a 'guide' and we must not accept the role of 'the guide'.

OK let's get back to the internet. No one person was ever in charge of the 'internet'. No one decreed its laws and protocols; they simply emerged. The process was by what are known as 'requests for comment' or RFCs. An innovator who had an idea as to how to do something would publish it as an RFC and wait for comments. If it was accepted by users then it would become an accepted protocol. They held that its 'laws' should be 'discovered not decreed'. What is this anarchy? democracy? No it was the observance of life. They watched to see what emerged and "less was required than allowed" as standards emerged. There were no arch-leaders, gurus or popes. It is all a 'bit hairy' as we say in the UK. It forever threatens to run in anarchy and chaos. The early churches were more like this than you might have guessed. Safety was not ensured by the setting up of high fences or detailed laws of behaviour or doctrine. Safety found its guarantee from another source.

Its 'safety' was ensured by each member 'holding fast the head', not by conformity to the dictates of 'leaders'. "Neither be called leaders" said Our Lord, "for one is your leader, even Christ". Matt 23:10

1 comment:

KingJimmy said...

Great analogy! I was talking to somebody who was part of a Pentecostal denomination that had an episcopal structure. He was telling me it was "good to have people to hold him accountable." I challenged his notion of accountability by asking this elder brother, "How many pastors have your bishops removed from their church for being full of pride?" He couldn't answer me one word.

I told him that true accountability isn't found in pyramid structures, but in relational ones. I told him that somebody who is close to me in the Lord, who "gets up in my face" when I stray, is able to hold me far more accountable than somebody who simply sits at an office in a distant land. Indeed, their bishop whom they were "accountable to" would likely never detect the pride of a pastors heart, because he has no relationship with that man. Truth be told, he can't hold him to be truly accountable for his character and conduct. At best, he can remove him from his "office" for whatever sin he commits. But as I've seen in that denomination, you will only be removed from your "office" if you sleep around or steal from the church.

All this is fostered by a "leaders" mentality. "Brethren" are those who are truly able to hold our feet to the fire. One is institutional, the other is relational and organic.

I Am A Disciple