Spiritual blindness and the pastor-king hierarchy problem of the church

One of the things I don’t admire about the evolution of church is the “don’t ever question anything or anyone” hierarchy or CEO mindset of some churches and denominations. As with other situations in life, sometimes hard transparent questions and discussion lead to a better understanding and “intimacy” of the matter. The “don’t question” mindset has filtered into nearly every church I know. We hear people saying things like, “don’t question God’s anointed” as if they are an Old Testament king or are untouchable. This has its roots in Roman Catholicism; essentially establishing the priest as nearly God, or a deity and it is quite contrary to scripture. This is the epitome of making someone another god “before” the Lord. It is a great example of doing the exact opposite of what God has asked us to do and is rampant in the church today. This way of thinking and acting creates disunity not unity. Why don’t we see it? Why do we continue to enable actions so opposite of what scripture asks? Some in the church have become spiritually blind which is nearly always an indicator of being stuck in elementary Christianity. 

When we stop maturing in Christ our vision becomes cloudy and the ways of God and the world seem to grow blurry.

That kind of “blindness” is counter to what the NT church is called and “anointed” to live and operate like. The king of the OT was contrary to theocracy. Today, charged and empowered by the New Covenant, we are called back into a theocracy, “GOD IN US”. In the OT the king became rival or in replacement of God as the authority over Israel. When we imply that pastors are the only anointed ones or outrank everyone else, we are going against a King Jesus “GOD IN US” mindset. When the body lacks accountability at all levels we are no longer living through and in the equality of Christ. In the OT just because the king was anointed didn’t mean they were above reproach, look at all the prophets (considered as regular lay people by the king) sent to bring back the anointed kings to the ways of the Lord. The kings usually represented a picture or mosaic of the mis-shepherding of Israel more than they imaged the positively shepherding of Israel. You shouldn’t want to identify as “or be” like a king of Israel! They led people away not brought them closer to God. This un-questionable mindset has done significant damage to the body of Christ, and it has been displayed largely by the pockets of wayward (blind, or spiritually stuck or immature) church leadership today. (It has been described as the blind leading the blind, or the babies leading the babies.) It is almost always recognized when a lay person progresses into a vibrant spirit lead personal journey of spiritual growth to maturity and becomes more mature than those “leading” the church and their eyes become open to the lack of spiritual fruit within the church “leadership”. Unfortunately, there are many “pastors” that are stuck in elementary Christianity or blindness and can’t shepherd any further than they are. This is often the case when “hired” workers treat the “church” more like a job than a relational missional community. But thankfully the spirit isn’t limited by that and leads people or communities of people further. (Although Mark 6:5 may also indicate that kind of a spiritual limitation is possible.)

When Jesus comes, is resurrected, and ascends to the throne establishing a New Covenant, He is the only King or head of the church we need or should be looking for. From that point on, all believers are called and anointed. In a better view, staff “pastors” and/or “elders” (which I would say is a very arguable discussion according to the picture or recipe in the first church that we get from the NT) simply function as those recognized by the body as mature believers and operating as the servants or humble shepherds of the church and should be approachable, and of a similar (or better) mindset of authenticity and transparency as the rest of the called and commissioned priesthood of believers. I want to emphasize the importance of the recognition of maturity coming from the body of believers. It isn’t “voted in” or an “office” or even a “job,” it is an “observance” and spiritual identification of maturity as those that have borne fruit and exercised clarity in vision from God. They represent the image of God and are recognized by their heart resulting in action. They are a model as they shepherd those who shepherd. They equip the equipped as encouragers and teachers. The pastor doesn’t out rank anyone else in the church, and they certainly shouldn’t be elevated to a “mini god” status. That is clearly idolatry in the eyes of the Lord, and this is why the Bible is so clear that there is no hierarchy in the body of Christ. This connects to the way some churches have pushed things under the rug that has hurt a lot of people, they have been unapproachable with an attitude of hierarchy from the top and not functioning as the authentic and transparent bride of Christ. 

Transparent questions and open conversation bring healing, truth, and restoration by and in the Spirit. 

This is a major theme of healing in the Bible and living together in unity of the body. Don’t let the sun set before you are reconciled and brought back into harmony (symphoneo) by your community in love and nurturing. There are good “leadership” bodies that function with a Pauline model of “follow me as I follow Christ” and perhaps your goal should be to find one of these communities. It is time for the church to get transparent. According to Gallup poles (and Barna agrees within a few percentage points) church attendance is down 51% since 2009 and the major reason for people leaving the church is “distrust”. How long are we going to continue to act contrary to the recipe of the scriptural church and enable spiritual immaturity?

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