Been too long since we’ve blogged. Just blogging from the heart today… Out of the overflow of the heart, the fingers type…
We keep meeting wounded Christians who’ve been hurt and oppressed by their leaderships. The people differ, but the circumstances often sound the same.
The love of Jesus is preached in words, but Law, subtle or overt, is often in action in these places.
We understand why it is:
Law seems to maintain order, making it easier to protect the flock and manage the congregation and the system. But in prescribing the rules in this way, a heavy hand is laid down as the rules are imposed. And law and legalism replace love and honour and trust.
Those imposing the law are probably not aware of what they’re doing. They are just doing what’s always been done as far back as anyone can remember. They are innocent of being conscious of operating under a wrong motive because they are doing as they’ve been taught or copying the norm as its seemingly always been.
But what they are repeating comes from a long history of governing out of a system created by man. It is a form of control. If we all obey these rules, we will have something that seems like unity, that brings peace to the procession. But in actuality, what is being demanded is not unity but conformity.
What happens to those who do not tow the line exactly as it is laid down?
Follow the rules: all is well; we are all one, united in ‘love’; we can all get along together in peace and harmony…
Deviate from the rules: the society as we know it (and like it) is endangered. Carrying on will result in exile; withdrawal of love and relationship; because ‘you’re making the sheep nervous’…
When the Israelites met at Mount Sinai, God invited them ALL up the mountain, not just Moses. But out of unhealed mindsets, the people opted to send Moses as a representative, and traded direct face to face relationship with their Father of Glory for a list of rules to follow. They traded Love for Law.
When Jesus came, He came to restore Love as the highest law.
So, what happened?
In the early Acts church, they lived in each others houses, met daily, ate together, prayed together, shared all that they had for the good of the community. It was early. There weren’t established ‘rules’ that had been set out by some council, dictating how things would go.
Surely, without rules, there was a potential for complete chaos…?
Yet there wasn’t chaos, but harmony. The law of love governed them. And something arose in their midst to prevent this freedom from getting out of hand.
Honour is not ‘do as I say, and we’ll get along fine’. That’s a perverted form of unbiblical submission.
Honour is the thing that arises out of love, a compulsion to be good to each other ‘written on our hearts’ by love for one another. Submission to one another, as Christ loves the Church.
Honour creates trust between people. We love each other, so we act honourably towards one another, deferring to one another out of love, and trust arises as a result…
Is it perfect? No. It’s messy where there are many sheep.
But if we can get over the illusion that we are in control of anything, it is worth trying to live this way, the way of love, honour and trust…
Will some people make mistakes, out of their own unhealed hearts and perceptions? Yes. But when it happens, the love for one another means that we can talk about what happened, try to identify why it happened so that we can heal the root cause, and then move on to try again so that love can continue to flow and trust be given a chance to rebuild again.
Much of the leadership structures that currently exist in the church, the reason why people are getting hurt and squashed by leaders, is because we’ve been following a Roman model that was instilled much later in church history to create a system of order, to control the masses to make it easier to maintain order.
Leaders are not meant to control. Leaders are meant to govern, like Jesus, as servant kings, leading by example, by love, honouring, entrusting, and fathering.
Fathering. This is the way of love. This is the way of Jesus. Giving people the benefit of the doubt to choose their own path, even if they might make choices differently than the leader is at first comfortable with…
Why did the Israelites not go up the mountain for a face to face relationship with the Father?
Because fear came upon them. When they saw the awesome lightnings and dark cloud of God, deep down they knew they could hide nothing from Him. They knew how ugly they each were at a heart level and knew God would see. In fear, they hid behind Moses, rather than have to face the truth of themselves and allow God to change them at the heart level. In their insecurity, they chose rules over relationship. They denied a chance to be healed by God Himself as a result. They left themselves in messy darkness instead of embracing Light.
Fathering people is the only way to bring people to a place of love and security where they are willing to surrender self out of humility, look realistically at themselves, and thus allow the healing process to begin.
So long as leaders continue to lord over congregations, operating from Law instead of love and honour, people are going to continue to hide from relationship, unhealed, and continue to get hurt in the process. Leaders will continue to see the mess caused and default back to Law in order to maintain the illusion of control, trapped in a negative downward spiral of hurt and oppression.
But when we as a Church make the quantum leap of operating out of love, instilling a culture of honour to keep the actual peace, not fearing the messes when they come because we know that Love Himself will rule out; people will stop hiding, get healed at a heart level, learn to love others as Christ loves the Church, and the world will begin to know that we are Christians by our love.
Even leaders might begin to feel safe and secure and loved enough to look at themselves honestly, to get healed in their own hearts so they can be better leaders.
Be encouraged. Be empowered. Be delivered.