“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors,” James 2:8-9, NKJV.
For those who also think this about me, I am admitting that I can be a bit abnormal at times, particularly when it comes to my thoughts about salvation, church work, and ministry, in general.
I sometimes struggle with the way that we (the Body of Christ) do things. My concern about the Body of Christ is that we are too divided as a people. Instead of truly embracing the diversity of gifts that the Lord has given to us all and respecting everyone’s gifts, we tend to favor those who are more visible in the operation of their gifts — the pastors and other leaders of the congregation.
That bothers me way more than anyone knows. But, then again, I’m weird, remember? 🙂 It is my belief that the person with the gift of hospitality or exhortation is just as important as the person who has been called to preach. Yet, go to any church and you will find people who almost seem willing to drink the bathwater of the “man of God,” but they wouldn’t even give a cup of water to the custodian. After all, the pastor has a closer relationship with God than anyone else in the congregation, right? (I won’t even go there!)
I know . . . people always say “give honor where honor is due.” Unfortunately, that has led to idolization of pastors, people coveting preaching as the “best” spiritual gift one can have, and other things like total disregard for those who labor faithfully behind the scenes. This is where the weird girl in me begins to show herself because how well someone can light up a pulpit on Sunday morning is not important to me. Neither is having a specific leadership position at church. What matters most to me is that we do what we do, not for self-glorification, but because of our love for God, His Word, and His people. So, those with spiritual gifts that don’t put them in the limelight are as important, in my humble opinion, as those who are front and center. I believe the Word teaches this as well.
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all,” 1 Corinthians 12:4–6.
“And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another,” 1 Corinthians 12:23–25.
Some of you may wonder if I’m writing this because I failed to get a leadership position at my local congregation or I’m mad at my pastor. Neither of those things is true. I absolutely adore (not idolize) my pastor, and I do lead a ministry at church. It’s not because my pastor is the pastor that I value him. It’s also not because I agree with how everything runs at the church that I have such admiration for him. I’m drawn to him because of his servant heart. Even when I may disagree with some policy or procedure, I know that we as a local congregation are perfectly imperfect as I am as a person. If this were a perfect church, I wouldn’t be allowed to enter the building! 🙂
The bottom line is that I’m a firm believer that we are all equal under the Cross. It doesn’t mean that everyone is at the same level of spiritual maturity. (That’s a whole different issue in and of itself!) It is dangerous for us to forget that all members of the Body are important. Even as I step into leadership positions in and outside of my congregation, it is my prayer that God keeps this truth at the forefront of my heart. Titles are not important to me. They are so unimportant that I struggle with how titles are used in the church. For me personally, the only title I truly desire is that of a Kingdom servant.
Earlier, I stated that we should do what we do because of “our love for God, His Word, and His people.” Paul says this:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing,” 1 Corinthians 1–3.
Love will keep us from having self-serving interests. Love will prevent our pride from getting in the way of serving. Love will remind us that whatever gifts we have are not a result of anything special we have done to deserve them, but they have been entrusted to us by God to use for His glory. When love is truly at the center of all we do, then we will value everyone!
With that, I shall say “amen” and finally end this post!