Friday, May 09, 2008

Maintaining Humility in Religious Leadership

I spent some time in John 9 today. Perhaps you are well aware of the story. A beggar man, blind from his birth, is healed by Christ. Quite clearly Jesus explains that this man's condition was not a result of his sin, nor his parent's sin, but so that "the works of God might be displayed in him". (Quick aside: Are you willing to endure what most equate to suffering so that God might receive glory in your life?) As the man follow's the instructions of Christ, he washes the mud from his eyes in the pool of Siloam. Immediately he can see. What a joy that must have been! The crowd witnessing this miraculous experience begin to question him. They eventually bring him to the Pharisees - the religious leaders of the day. This poor beggar man is interrogated by the Pharisees as to the circumstances surrounding the event. They drag his parents in and question them. There is a lot of uncertainty sweeping through the crowd. As this poor, beggar man continues to insist on his experience, he makes this statement concerning the Christ: "If this man were not from God, he could do nothing". That's when the religious leaders, the Pharisees, lose their cool. Their pride spills out of their mouths, "You were born in sin, and would you teach us? And they cast him out."

The shame of leadership unwilling to accept in humility instruction from one who experienced the touch of Christ. Leadership in the church today needs to take a quick lesson from this passage. We get caught up in our knowledge...our degrees...our mastery of the text. Often when one who just begins to experience the touch of Jesus Christ in their lives shares with us their experience, we scoff - perhaps inside our hearts, but scoff nonetheless. Perhaps we try to quickly instruct them in the finer points of our own theology, pulling apart their 'straw man' bit by bit. The end result? A castaway.

There is a point in time to deal with the finer issues of theology. Theology is vitally important. The weightier things of Scripture are a necessity in our lives. However, there should be a humility in church leadership today, to listen. To listen. To hear what our sheep tell us. To rejoice with them as they experience the work of Christ in their lives. Then, as we rejoice with them, we should be in humility encouraging them in the Word. May we as pastors, elders, missionaries, teachers, professors, instructors of every kind never look down our collective noses at these who are "born in utter sin" and then cast them out as unworthy to handle the truths of a life touched by Christ. How quickly we forget why we are in the position we are in.

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