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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Work of Restoration, #86
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. (I Peter 5:3)
The writer is a pastor in the traditional sense. We recognize that drastic changes in human institutions cannot be made overnight. We must teach people and prepare ourselves, as did Ezra, to do the Lord's will. The Holy Spirit of God helps us as we move along in patience and Divine wisdom.
It is not the office of pastor that is being changed, for that office is one of the ministries given by the ascended Jesus for the building of the Body of Christ. Rather, it is the concept of clergy and laity, of priest and people, that is unscriptural, and harmful to the development of strong disciples who will put their talents to use in the Kingdom of God. We ought to avoid the terms "Reverend," "His Holiness," and "Father" when referring to human beings.
The meaning of disciple. Perhaps the transformation taking place hinges on the term disciple. A Christian, by definition, is a disciple of Christ. What is a disciple? A disciple is a person who is learning the ways of the Kingdom of God from Christ through the Holy Spirit.
There is a distinction between a member of a congregation and a disciple of Christ. While some members of congregations are true disciples, let us draw these two roles apart so we can examine them. For the members of the Body of Christ are disciples of the Lord Jesus—every one of them without exception. But many of the members of the Christian congregations are not disciples and therefore not members of the Body of Christ.
This may appear to be an overstatement but it is true nevertheless.
The problem has to do with role expectation. In the traditional pattern, the church members congregate to hear the pastor preach a sermon. Hopefully, the sermon will bring comfort and courage to the hearts of the people so they may pursue their daily tasks in a more godly manner and with increased joy and peace.
In current practice, the pastor has his profession and the members of the congregation have their professions and occupations. The pastor officiates at their sprinkling as infants, at their baptism in water when converted, at their marriage, and at their death. He is their spiritual guide through life. This is somewhat of a priestly role.
But such is not the way of the Body of Christ. Each member of the Body of Christ is a dedicated disciple. The apostle is a dedicated disciple. The prophet is a dedicated disciple. The pastor is a dedicated disciple.
The person who has the gifts of healing is a dedicated disciple. The person who gives money is a dedicated disciple. There is not one of these disciples who is a spiritual guide, a priest, a Reverend, to the others. But each at some point may serve as a guide and helper to the other.
Why, then, do such disciples assemble? They assemble to be built up in Christ. What role do pastors, teachers, and other elders play? They give of their gifts and their experience to the less mature believers, but not in the sense of a priest.
The true concept of the Body of Christ, of discipleship, is somewhat like that of the various trades, such as printing, carpentry, and plumbing. The individual starts out as an apprentice. After sufficient instruction and practice he becomes a journeyman. Finally he is elevated to the rank of master craftsman.
Meanwhile he is working, and also teaching those of lesser skill in the trade. This is how the Body of Christ is to be organized.
To be continued.