I have faced an issue that I just can’t quite figure out. I hope that you as the discerning reader will be able to help shed light onto it. It seems like a particular mode of reasoning is prevalent everywhere but the church.
Only in the church will you find people who constantly disagree and argue with someone who has devoted their life to diligently studying the Scriptures. Before you start thinking of a rebuttal, read this:
Let’s start with a biblical foundation for what I am about to say:
Jesus is the Architect that builds the church (Matt. 16:18). Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4) that cares for, protects, dies in place of and sustains His church. Every single other person that has been called into the ministry, specifically for the noble role of an elder (1 Tim. 3:1) is an under-shepherd (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
Scripture clearly explains that in the church, certain people have a specific role that they must undertake. This role Has been given to them in order that they may equip the saints by building up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11). These roles are more commonly known as apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (pastors/elders), and teachers.
Paul is clear that the people appointed to these roles have a primary task of laboring in preaching and teaching (1 Tim. 5:17). This means that they have committed their entire life to studying and searching the Scriptures, so that — they would love and learn to lead with love the people they care for — so that — they may perpetuate the growth of the people who have been entrusted under their care — so that — the people who sit under their teaching and preaching would become more like Christ and would gradually and steadily think like Christ and look like Christ. This is the chief aim and goal of any under-shepherd. Provided that he is a faithful one, this is the duty and role that he, empowered by the Holy Spirit, carries out on a daily basis — within the context of his local community.
This role clarity is graphically written about in Acts 6:1-6. The apostles realized that it was not right for them to do a task that they were not called to do. This is what they literally said: “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables” (Acts 6:2). Therefore, seven men were chosen for that specific ministry (Acts 6:3). The rest of the apostles who had a primary calling of preaching and teaching the Word said the following: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). We see very clearly here that it is biblical for pastors and elders in a church to have their primary role and function as preachers and teachers of the Word of God.
So here is the issue that I can’t quite figure out:
How come then so many people put into question the person who Has been appointed by God to do the work of laboring in the Word?
How come so often people are quick to say things like: “I do not agree with your interpretation of this text” or “I do not believe or agree with what you are teaching me” — even though you are a student/scholar of the Word and have fully devoted your whole life to this calling?
I want to qualify what I said above with this: I am referring to a situation in which a pastor or an elder is not of ill repute. I am referring to a situation where a pastor’s heart is bleeding over his people. I am referring to a situation where the under-shepherd is truly, faithfully and dutifully pleading with his people to love Christ and to have Scripture as the ultimate authority in their life.
Of course everyone needs to be like the Bereans. Of course everyone needs to study Scripture and see if what their pastors are teaching them aligns with the Word of God (Acts 17:11). Of course I am not advocating a blind following of a leader who is potentially leading the sheep to pastures full of poison. Of course there are cases where pastors fall and are disqualified from the ministry.
I am speaking here specifically of a person who has a shepherds heart, loves his people and is fully and wholeheartedly submitting to the Chief Shepherd, Christ Jesus.
Here is the mode of reasoning that is rather absurd that exists in the church and is conspicuously absent everywhere else in our culture:
1. Mechanic Mania: When I go get my oil changed or my brake pads switched, I am certain that the mechanic knows more than I do. Why am I so sure of that? Because I am very illiterate when it comes to these kinds of things. I do not go into the pit where they change the oil and offer suggestions on how to replace the filter. I do not offer my advice how the bolts need to be taken off of my wheel prior to the brake pads being switched out.
2. Music Mantra: When I hear someone play an instrument or sing a song, I admire their God-given talent. I admire that they have devoted an entire life to pursuing this craft — for the glory of God and the joy of listeners. I do not offer advice on how to tune a violin or how to sing in the right pitch. I just don’t. I realize that I do not know how to do that. Most other people seem to function in the same spirit.
3. Athletic Accolades: When someone is explaining to me how to climb a rock wall and where to hang on — I do not immediately start teaching this person how I think the tallest mountain in the world needs to be climbed — myself having climbed only a simple rock wall in a church camp. To most onlookers, this logic seems very simple. The guy decked out in Northface gear with calloused hands seems to know what he is doing — after doing it for at least a decade or more.
4. Design Domination: When I come into a home, I do not offer interior design advice to the homeowner. I simply do not because I did not devote my life to this craft. I did not go to school for it. I was not born with an innate sense of space with which I can make a shack look like a château. Again, most people have no issue with this.
5. Photo Fun: If my picture-taking skills extend to tapping the screen on my iPhone, I am certainly not about to run up to photographers at a wedding and offer them advice on lighting, poses or camera equipment. For some strange reason, everyone seems to be in unanimous agreement about my decision to restrain and keep walking.
I am almost certain that you are nodding your head in agreement to the above five examples.
It only makes logical sense right?
Both human and divine wisdom calls for this behavior right?
Does this mode of reasoning not apply to someone who is a student of the Word?
Why then when someone has devoted their entire life to studying Scripture — and devoted their whole life to learning how to apply it — and how others can apply it — why are they still being questioned that their interpretation of it is inaccurate — specifically when that interpretation is not about a controversial text — but actual close-handed orthodoxy that Christendom has unilaterally held on to for an extended amount of time in history.
Where is this kind of spirit coming from?
How come this mode of reasoning is used everywhere else but with people who are put as overseers and shepherds and leaders within the church?
Specifically, people who have been exclusively committed and commissioned to study the Word of God for the mutual edification of the people of God.
I believe there are some specific reasons for this. But before I share what those reasons are, I want to hear what you have to say:
What do you think is the reason that the logic in the five examples above is generally acceptable in culture?
What is the reason that people so quickly jump on to the bandwagon named “this is just your own interpretation of the text” ?
What is the reason that people have no problem trusting their mechanic, a musician, an athlete, a designer or a photographer — but quickly run into a huge issue when someone is pleading with them not about the next most exciting thing but the most important thing they will ever have to deal with — their life and how to live it for Jesus’ fame and for His glory?
Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.