Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is Christianity a Contact Sport?

The most excruciating thing that happened to me as a pastor (shepherd) occurred when asked to help people discover what the Spirit had in store for them.  Everyone felt a brooding sense that God wanted to do something dynamic in their midst.  It felt palpable and immediate.  But like all great moves of the Spirit, there was first an ask on the Holy Spirit's part.  There was refining, recasting of vision, and turning to a new way of thinking and living required.

For this task God sent me in the shepherding role.  But, though they called me to come, though they asked me to help them discover what was imminent in the Spirit's brooding over them,  the sheep rebelled against what the Spirit required.  As the scripture speaks, the sheep refused to be lead.

Scripture warns about the hireling shepherd.  As a Quaker I am from a tradition steeped in suspicion of the hireling. Unfortunately, among some of us Friends, it is also a tradition to turn God's shepherding ministry into an employer employee relationship.  The meeting being the employer and the shepherd being an employee because we give him money. 

This totally goes against all that scripture says about the role of the shepherding gift.  It takes an important gift of ministry and leadership and turns it into a relationship of the controlled and the controllers.  There is a rising tide of shepherds taking a dominating role.  However, a greater incidence numerically exists of the sheep exercising the non-biblical employer/controller role. Not very organic for a movement that learned 350 years ago about being an organic church.

When sheep rebel, or is it the wolves in sheep's clothing rebelling, the body of Christ gets bloody and shepherds get torn limb from limb, soul from body.  And the real sheep?  Well they just follow the rebel leaders or hide.  They are not willing to stand up to the wolves by themselves.  When they have, when they do, they pay an unwanted price and, thereafter, never take a stand again.  Indeed, they should never have to.  It is to the apostles and shepherds that the correcting role belongs.  Having rejected God's servants sent to lead them out of this sickness, the rebels have taken upon themselves correction by the wrath of God.  Maybe in this life.  But if not, most certainly in the next.

May God grant  "repentance leading then to a knowledge of the truth,  and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." that we again may become an organic movement of the Spirit.


With  insights on the shepherd role, Ross Rohde calls Christianity a contact sport and gives us some additional insights below:

Caring for the Flock
Christianity is a contact sport. It is not some pristine, polite, protected activity. It is real and sometimes quite raw. When sheep get beat up, attacked by wolves and butt their heads with one another, they need shepherds. Jesus is the chief Shepherd as I explain in The Pastor in Organic Church. But the Spirit often uses especially gifted people with particularly warm hearts and divine relational skills to deal with these issues. Jesus the Good Shepherd is working through his spiritually gifted shepherds. Pastor or Shepherd (same word in Greek) is not a hierarchical position in organic church; it’s a spiritual gift, nothing more…but also nothing less. It’s important to developing the infrastructure of an ever growing movement of the Spirit.
  • Have you ever wondered why those particular five gifts were mentioned in Eph. 4:11-12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ? 
  • Do the metaphors of foundations and infrastructure make sense to you? 
  • What is keeping us from having a movement of the Spirit? Could it be that Christendom has emphasized certain of these gifts, nearly ignored others, and doesn’t allow them to work together under the coordination of the Master Architect? 
  • What would the Western Church look like if it took these gifts as seriously as we see the Early Church taking them?

Even 7-on-7 Can Be a Contact Sport by  dswinney

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