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24 August, 2018 11:41

August 24, 2018

A CULTURE OF HONOR

I believe it was Spurgeon who made the statement. ‘The Church has suffered more from its exponents than its opponents.’ With over fifty years of ministry behind me I’ve seen the Church survive one well-meaning teaching trend after another.

Take the teaching of covering or the heavy-handed discipleship movement, which gave its leaders unbridled authority while reducing its followers to mere serfs. While these teachings have a certain basis of truth behind them, that truth is too often stretched beyond what God intended. John warns us of this when he wrote ‘Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God…’ (2 John 9)

Ask any high-wire performer about the importance of balance and they will tell you it’s a matter of life or death. Which brings me to the latest trend or teaching regarding the culture of honor. A church I’m well acquainted with began asking the congregation to stand every time its leader stood to minister. Now this may seem like an honorable thing to do as we are told to ‘appreciate those who labor among you and have charge over you.’ But this can also lead to dividing the Body between clergy and laity. The laity being taught to ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ thereby making the leader immune from any wrongdoing or loving criticism; not to mention tempting him to become proud of his position and new found popularity.

Take for example Levi and his sons who presided over the house of God at Shiloh during the time of young Samuel. Levi’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas were abusing their authority by demanding of the people the portion of the sacrifice that belonged to God. Not only would they not listen to any correction, they seemingly used their authority to sleep with various women on the ‘ministry team’. God’s response to all of this was in the form of a stern rebuke to Levi for ‘honoring your sons above Me.’ Here is a clear example of where the culture of honor was perverted and the laity suffered. God later destroyed them for their actions.

I’m well aware of Paul’s instruction to young Timothy that those who rule well be considered worthy of double honor. Which incidentally doesn’t mean double pay, but rather the honor first of all in being given the responsibility of leadership and secondarily, being paid to do so. Paul however also addresses the church as a body stating that those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor…but God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked; that there should be no division in the body.

(Let’s face it. When was the last time someone said to you. ‘You have the most beautiful kidneys.’)

Jesus sought to lay a foundation of what He considered to be of utmost importance among His disciples when He girded Himself with a towel and began washing His disciple’s feet. No doubt they were all shocked and embarrassed by His actions. This was not the ‘culture of honor’ they were accustomed to. Masters never washed the feet of their servants. Jesus before His death and departure was leaving them with a powerful lesson of how they were to take the role of servant leadership in His kingdom. This was in contrast to the position of power they envisioned for themselves prior to this.

Seldom do you hear of a church taking up a special offering for the poor among its members. Every year we pass the plate to honor our pastors by sending them away for a few days of rest and relaxation. No, I’m not complaining about having to give a few extra dollars to bless the pastors. I just don’t want to honor them above the rest of His body. James talks about the guy with the Rolex or gold ring that was ushered to the best seat in the house while the rest were treated by a different standard. I can hear the Master say, ‘It shall not be this way among you.’

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