I was reading a message by Simon McIntyre (a Senior Pastor at C3 Oxford Falls). I’ve often enjoyed his preaching in the past. At first, he made some reasonably good points on the subject of us saying ‘God told me’ – using this to justify doing things that we want to do even when it contradicts scripture. Ps McIntyre pointed out that often God doesn’t tell us – we tell us. Except that he didn’t use the word ‘often’. Reading his message, he seems to be teaching that God never tells us – we always do. There were no qualifying words to soften the blow!
I know that I hope I don’t do this, but its possible I’ve fallen into the trap. Hopefully, by applying scripture in my life, I do it less often. This shows the value of using scripture as a measure in our lives, as we’ve been discussing on several threads here recently. However, I’ve definitely come across the odd example of individuals doing what Ps McIntyre describes – for example, when God ‘tells’ them to get romantically involved with someone other than their current husband or wife.
So reading on in his article, I was disappointed, though not completely surprised, to see what followed, on the last page. Using the logic that we need to apply scriptural principles to our lives rather than rely on the idea that God tells us things directly, we should follow the principle of submitting to those who have the rule over you – in this case church leaders – when this contradicts or postpones what we think God has told us. That is, if we think that God told us to do something, this is overruled if a church leader ‘suggests’ to us that we do something else.
This could sound innocuous to start with. However, Ps McIntyre seems to be insisting upon submission to those who ‘rule over us’ regardless of our own judgements about our circumstances. Is this how leadership in the church is to be? Do we ‘rule over’ one another at all? Of course Ps McIntyre insists that leaders are to suggest, rather than demand, but if we are to submit regardless, dismissing any reservations we may have, what is the difference? I’m sure Ps McIntyre would not turn his brain off upon demand! He’s too smart for that.
25(U)But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
26″It is not this way among you, (V)but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
27and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
28just as (W)the Son of Man (X)did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Who is our head?
Who are we to submit to?
What form does submission take?
Does it involve doing what we are told, even when told very nicely, regardless of any other judgement we may have made upon the matter in line with our understanding of scripture, and in prayer?
Does this kind of teaching encourage the same culture of leadership that Jesus encouraged?