Friday, January 09, 2009

4 Ungodliness in the Church and the Role of the Elder: Autonomous Sheep or A Cared-for, Led and Guided Flock?

Rev. Bud Powell, over at Basket of Figs, posted a wonderful reflection last night on the Christian life. One cannot go too far in the evangelical world without encountering the opinion that those in leadership in the church shouldn't pry too far into their lives, and be too strict about expectations vis a vis holiness and godliness of the Body. This is completely contrary to the Biblical witness, as evidenced in passages such as Titus 2:11-12, for starters. Rev. Powell writes,
So, why would those who talk of grace lie to one another? Why would they lie about their ministers and elders? Why would they thumb their noses at the judicatories of the church? Why would they say, "Lord, Lord," and do not the things that Jesus said?

Must the minister apologize to his congregation for teaching them what the Scriptures say about esteeming highly those who are over them; a text that specifically applies to the officers of the church who are to admonish the unruly? [1Thess. 5:12-14] "Are over" means to have rule, to preside, to administer. The Lord Jesus has prescribed a government and order to His church. Must he be sorry that is written in the Scripture and apologize for it? Must parents apologize to their children because the Scripture says, "Honor your Father and your Mother?" Does the Scripture and grace teach us to hate our parents and spurn them even unto their deaths? To defy and slander those who try to obey this order? Even worse, are we to be abettors of those who live unruly lives?
The attitude in question here is classic autonomy - I am who I am, and I can do what I want to, and whatever happens it's between me and God.

The fact of the matter is, though, for the sheep in the flock of God, it's truly NOT just between "me and God". The elders of the flock are given for instruction, rebuke and correction - they are humbly to undertake these tasks of service to their Lord, and will be held accountable for those Christ has entrusted to them as His undershepherds. Sin and ungodliness among the flock are every bit part of the elders' concern. We are not a church made up of autonomous individuals, walking roughly parallel paths toward eternity - but the flock of God, following Christ our shepherd by means of the elders, His flock's caretakers. Sin is between us and God, indeed - but it is also between us and our elders.

4 comments:

Gerald said...

I've just found your new blog site from the link back at the old one. I like the new picture! Very nice! And I see I've got a lot of reading to do so that I can catch up with you. I can't wait to get started. :-)

Todd said...

Hi Gerald -

Glad you found your way over. I suspect it might take some a little while, since Semper Ubi Sub Ubi takes SO long to load (server and blogging software issues crippled it).

The new picture is actually from my camera on my phone, taken in the Alps in the Italy/France border region. Turned out great, and seemed to fit the theme :)

Blessings to you,

Todd

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