Jesus' Leadership: In Meetings
In a Church where Jesus is presumed currently active, involved, and Alive, rather than a historic relic to be appreciated and venerated and taught about, there is Liberty.
Another thing we must have the courage to change is to have meetings like the Bible describes in 1 Corinthians 14: “When you come together, brothers, and the whole Church is together, let everything be done for the building up of the Body. Every one of you has a word of instruction, a song, a revelation.” When we live that way, even the unbeliever falls on his face and cries out, “God is among you!”
There is no boss except Jesus! “Call no man leader, master, teacher, or pastor. You are all brothers.” You all have Jesus and He is equal in each of us. Certainly there will be maturity differences, and some gifts are more “public,” while other gifts are more quiet or less visible in public settings. But, all are available and have opportunity. Sometimes we need the mercy of Jesus and sometimes we need the teaching of Jesus. Sometimes we need the songs of Jesus and sometimes we need the help of Jesus to solve problems. But it’s all equally Jesus. Please do read 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. There is no one in charge except for Jesus Himself.
We gather together having “considered how we can spur each other on toward love and good works” (Heb. 10:24-26). We must give thought and prayer about how we can help each other when we do come together, and each of us takes responsibility to be a bearer of the Word of God and the Love of God. No “special person” is “automatically” expected to do anything—except listen and respond to God like everyone else.
If someone brings a teaching from Jesus and others come with a word of instruction or song or revelation; if this brother or sister is sharing something that Jesus showed them and revelation comes to a second person, the first one “sits down”—if we are responding to God’s command, rather than the traditions of men. The Bible has always said, “When revelation comes to the second person, LET THE FIRST ONE SIT DOWN!” That’s what it says in 1 Corinthians 14. This is not popular with those who “love to be first” and love to be in charge and viewed as the “most spiritual” and take the money of the saints. We have inherited a heavy load of traditions from the roman catholics and from our “protestant” and “denominational” and pagan forefathers. The “priest” or “pastor” or MC or CEO is up front, talking to the “lesser” laity—all the poor people, all the audience—just sitting and listening. This is likely the practice and “doctrine” that Jesus said He hated—that of the “Nicolaitans” (translated as those who “conquer His People”). But GOD has said all of that must change, for His sake and ours.
From a practical standpoint, I want to suggest to you that if we really want to honor the gifts that are in each of us, and draw out the gifts that are in all of God’s People, then we need to change many things. As silly as it sounds, one of those things may be how we sit when we are gathered together. When Jesus was here, He had a circle of people around Him. “To those seated in the circle around Him—these are my mothers, my brothers, my sisters” (Mark 3). Seated in a circle around Him! Isn’t that the most natural thing to do, when we are gathered to hear HIM, and not a mere man with limited gifts? This may sound very simple to you, and it may not even sound very important, but I assure you it is. I’ve heard that the words for “pulpit” and “flesh” are pronounced the same way in French.
When we sit with everyone facing the front, it brings all the attention to one man. We are not equals amongst equals any longer. I am subservient to whoever has taken the throne in front of me as my master, or the conductor or facilitator or traffic cop or expert of the “class” or “service.” When we set the chairs in rows instead of a circle seated around Jesus, it’s like turning a spotlight on one man. Everyone else is just an audience and one mere man is the attraction. That is very wrong because there are many gifts amongst us, and they are all parts of Jesus. If we put everyone looking toward the front, we are exalting only one gift. How proud a man would have to be to allow himself always the “chief seat” or the spotlight.
In this model pictured above, typical of the religious models in institutions and “house churches,” there is some mere man officially “in charge” through whom everything must pass. He officially starts, officially ends, officially teaches or “assigns” the teaching or “worshipping.” He makes the decisions, answers the questions, and controls the “flow.” This is unBiblical (1Cor. 14:26) and far less than Fruitful. Leaven in the batch, quenched Gifts, and Jesus’ lost Lordship are all but guaranteed in this model. Also, such a “method” is never found in the Bible. That should be quite convicting.
The almost universal (to all “world” religions, including “cultural christianity”) clergy/laity caste system and pre-planned interactive “show” is not in the Bible, nor in God’s Heart and Mind. Jesus spoke out with clarity and forcefulness, and even name-calling, against a system filled with traditions and hirelings and those who elevate themselves over God’s People. Even the “Twelve Apostles of the Lamb” were to be just “brothers amongst brothers” in the “midst” of the Saints, not “over” them, according to Jesus Himself. God desires Samuel leadership, in the midst of Life, without title or position, but only love and gift, as needed. Otherwise, we are “rejecting God” by allowing and desiring a Saul type of “leadership” model, according to God’s declaration to Samuel, and to His People. Of course, this is all a radical call compared to the traditions of men that most have been brain-dirtied by for their entire lifetimes. But, until we re-evaluate our ways by the Scriptures, we can only continue to get very lukewarm, leaven-filled results, as modern cultural religion always does.
Here is the essence of one issue we must reconsider: Are our times together “about” Jesus or “FROM” Jesus? Obedience and humility and liberty for ALL the Saints make all the difference! “From Him and through Him and to Him are ALL THINGS!” The man-made model of “attendance” and “holy man” christianity guarantees IMMENSE loss. Jesus does NOT get HIS Way in you, or through you, or to you as HE pleases when men control—with their “creativity” and power plays. The fear-based, or self-promotion, way is financially profitable and ego elevating for the clergy-caste. No wonder there is so much energy and name-calling when these things are presented to many of them. It is “the Stone the BUILDERS rejected that has become the Chief Cornerstone.” The “builders” are the ones with something to lose. Or at least they THINK they have something to lose, because they have not sufficiently trusted Jesus or His People.
Nevertheless, it is absolutely certain that Jesus forbids (Mat.23, etc) such man-made pyramid structures and ALL the religious titles that are so common today. It is shameful and a great loss because His Gifts are wasted, and His Voice is not heard. And this is true even if the “sermon” was “good” or Biblical, or the “music” was “Inspiring.” We’ll spare you the “statistics” of the bad “fruit” relating to modern christianity, in spite of “good sermons” and “inspiring music.” The attendance-based, clergy-controlled religion is not from Him, even if it is “for” Him. It makes all the difference as to whether “the gates of Hell prevail” or whether they are OVERCOME by His daily Life (1Cor. 12, Acts 2:42-47, Heb. 3:12-14). He wants to be HEAD of His Church, not the topic of those gathered in His Name.
So, what if instead all the gifts have an equal place? Perhaps there is someone with the gift of shepherd sitting in the circle. Maybe someone with a gift of teacher is sitting here and a gift of mercy sitting there. The gift of help may sit here and one with a gift of prophecy may sit here. All of the gifts have equal place because they are all Jesus!
As we already discussed, Paul in 1 Cor.14 clearly describes a time when “the whole church” is together. He describes the involvement of all of the Saints who have Jesus living inside. Christians, as described a few moments earlier in the letter (Ch.12), who are living daily together under His Lordship should continue to live as Priests when the church is together in one place. All have opportunity to respond to Jesus and His current Headship, as true Priests, whenever the church is together. There is no domineering or pre-appointed head religious men or women delivering a pre-rehearsed canned speech or song show. This model of “when revelation comes to the second, let the first one SIT DOWN” is in keeping with the ONLY Picture in the New Testament of Jesus’ Headship in a Meeting in His “Kingdom of Priests.” All of the Gifts poured out upon the Body of Christ, the Church, can FUNCTION at ANY given moment. “When Revelation comes to the second, let the first one SIT DOWN!” saith the Lord. There is no place for controlling who or what may happen, choreographed in advance for oratorical or music, or entertainment, or control purposes.
In a Church where Jesus is presumed currently active, involved, and Alive, rather than a historic relic to be appreciated and venerated and taught about, there is Liberty. Everyone with Jesus living within and functioning as such daily amongst the Believers, has a responsibility to offer their Gifts “unto the edification of the Body.” ALL of Jesus is poured out upon His Body, in ALL of His Gifts—and any Gift may be needed at any given time. If a young man opens up about difficulties in the workplace, or a sister admits she has difficulty with the children, Gifts of Teacher, or Encouragement, or Shepherd, or Helps may all spring up, as “Revelation comes to the second!” This is the only “Picture” of a time when “the whole church is Together” in the Bible. And in this “picture” Jesus is allowed to be a LIVING Head of His own church, rather than a man-made organization, controlled by mere men.
Each person indwelt by the Living Christ must be Free to be moved and used by Jesus in response to what is currently happening. THAT alone is the “Body of Christ.” “Meetings” must then be the overflow of what is already happening every day in daily “house to house” Together-Life in Jesus. There must be a place for JESUS to rule and lead through His PEOPLE and His Gifts AT ALL TIMES, in homes and so-called “meetings.” Men will try to mimic this by throwing in a token “ministry time”—whatever that is—but staying in control themselves. Don’t accept any gimmicks when JESUS can instead live through all of His Gifts and People.
HIS heart of “a Kingdom of Priests”—with Jesus truly and practically as Head of His Body—is our topic here. And, of course, this discussion is not about some childish and unBiblical version of “amateur hour” and everyone “taking turns” and the “pooling of ignorance” and opinion, or “everyone is supposed to say something” and “if you spoke more than 5 minutes ‘last week’ then you can’t talk ‘this week’, blah blah. Certainly His Church is not a “democracy.” His Church is to be a Theocracy where ANOINTING and GIFTS and HIS CURRENT THOUGHT Rule over our interactions in surprising and ever-changing, unplanned ways. At times (unplanned) one person may be responding to God out loud for a long period of time. But he is not “expected” to this time or ever.
However, the issue isn’t “mandatory spontaneity” (though Jesus did in Mat.10:20 place value on trusting Father to provide out of the overflow, rather than anything premeditated AND canned (notice the word “and!” :) ). By “canned” I mean “unresponsive to a LIVING God.” Still, in the context of Heb.10:25—there is Heb.10:24! “CONSIDER” how to spur others on when the Saints are to be together. In 1Cor.14, clearly “everyone” has a song or word of instruction available in the overflow of their hearts and lives. Everyone is flexible enough to “adjust” to what is CURRENTLY happening when the Saints are together and things are Happening, both in timing of “when” to say it, and content of exactly “what” needs to be Said. So, preparation is a GOOD thing, while flexibility of what or when or who or whether to say anything is still mandatory, if Jesus is Head. When saints gather they need to be FLEXIBLE, not so much mandatory “spontaneity.” Whether Tuesday or Friday or anytime, in a living room or coliseum, whether that time was planned and decided upon five days before or 20 minutes before it happens, if we are prepared in LIFE, the reality of what Jesus wants to say or do IS our primary preparation for ANY time we’re together with other Saints, whether on the tennis court or basketball court or during a cricket test. :) And, this is also true for times when all the Saints have a little “warning” that they will all be getting together. So! The issue isn’t “spontaneity” as much as it is “OVERFLOW” of what God is doing in us, rather than “preparing a lesson” so we can “share” it. Now in “overflow mode” we may certainly jot down some notes and Scriptures if that helps us “proclaim it clearly as we ought” (as Paul said). But, “preparing a message to share” (especially if WE’RE the person “expected” to do so, thus robbing the Priesthood of responsibility and opportunity) is different fundamentally and in motive from “preparing our lives” and “sharing from something REAL that He’s doing in us” when prompted by REAL situations that come up right in front of us when we’re together in a living room or while gardening or shopping with Saints. Make sense? If you gather together because a particular person has something specific they want to talk about with everyone, that isn’t a problem as long as it’s flexible in topic, and timing, and alteration of path—in response to what Jesus would surprise you with at the Time. :)
There is liberty and obedience to His Ways in 1Cor. 14. But, keep in mind that Paul also addressed in this chapter possible abuses by people ignoring headship, or taking advantage of their “liberty” due to ambition or emotion or lack of wisdom. Again, remember that the entire context for 1Cor. 14 includes “chapters” 10-13, where God’s Heart is that His People live as “one Loaf” discerning the Body and DAILY living out their lives intertwined just as the hand is intertwined to the fingers and wrist. In this context of Biblical LIFE in the church, 1Cor.14 can also be obeyed. “When revelation comes to the second, let the first one SIT DOWN.” No “show” and no “holy man” running the show. “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” Fear, greed, power, and ambition of a few cannot be permitted to rob His People of their Inheritance. Jesus is ALIVE and SPEAKING through His Gifts “as He wills” when we are truly His Body, rather than acting out a ceremony on a holy day.
Yes, there may be “overseers” who serve and help facilitate. And, yes, there will be times for “proclamation” to unBelievers in public as Paul did in certain instances recorded in the book of Acts. Still, unlike today, even in the times of “proclamation” there was “dialogue” (the Greek word of what happened in Troas)— not uninterruptible “monologue.” And this “proclamation” type of situation with unBelievers in Ephesus or Athens shouldn’t be confused with times when “the whole church is together.” (Certainly, though, unBelievers will often be present when the Family of God is together—1Cor. 14.) Times when the local Body of Christ is enjoying one another all in the same place is clearly different than when one is “street preaching” to a collected mass of unBelievers. As one example, Paul used a pagan “school” for the purpose of speaking to unBelievers about Jesus (Acts 19:8-10), spreading God’s Word to “everyone in the Province of Asia.” This, of course, is different than when the church, the Redeemed and Indwelt, are meeting together as in 1Cor. 12-14 or Acts 20 where Paul “dialogued” (as mentioned the Greek word) with his Family until dawn in an informal environment.
Jesus desires to build His Church that the gates of Hell no longer prevail against! “THIS is HOW all men will know you are MY Disciples.” He wants US together to “become a habitation” for Him—daily, intertwined “joined and knit together,” and “contending as One Man for the Faith.” And in this daily intimacy of “mother, brother, sister” Quality of Life Jesus has authored, THEN all of His People (from the overflow of “daily” totally intertwined lives, Acts 2:42-47, 1Cor. 12-13) MAY be used by the Spirit of Christ, at any given time. It’s simple really. :) JUST as when He was here with us in the physical body, JESUS gets the say. When we are not quenching His Spirit with man-made plans and hierarchies and liturgies and traditions and showmanship, and independent worldly lives, He is free to express Himself and His Gifts, just as when He was here in the physical body. His current Thought and Anointing, whether for a moment or “until dawn”—that is our passion. “When Revelation comes to the second, let the first one sit down...!”