Whenever I encounter believers that find their comfort in the church systems we all are familiar to, an idea that seems so normal to us all; that is the idea of calling what we consider religious leaders by their “Titles”. Many believers feel it is a sign of respect to call their preachers by names such as “pastor”, “elder”, “bishop”, etc. I and most of the believers I know do NOT use these titles before our names and when ever I encounter people that do, they either attempt to correct me (YOU MUST CALL HIM PASTOR) and/or they get highly offended with the impression that I do NOT respect “leadership”. I’m going to show you guys something from God’s word that contradict this idea. I could go into history and let you guys know how and when this started but for now lets just keep it simple.
My first example is going to be from our brothers who were used to develop the examples God wants us to have on this earth (from the bible) Lets think about Paul and Peter, these two were considered pastors, elders and just leaders for the lack of a better term. How did these two refer to each other. Many of us would think they would say PASTOR Peter or ELDER Paul, but we don’t see this example in the bible do we.
2 Peter 3:15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
Galatians 2:7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.
Now these scriptures are not being used by the content but I want you to notice how they refer to one another. In our days’ teaching wee are taught that we MUST put a prefix like pastor or bishop in front of their name is the respect. How come the early Christians did not get this memo? We have Peter, when referring to Paul, refers to him by his name or even better A BROTHER. Then we have Paul who refers to Peter as just Peter. I also want you to acknowledge that you most likely have never heard anyone refer to Paul, Peter, John as Pastor or Elders. Yet when we lose a highly esteemed preacher today, they always carry that prefix. (ex. If Pastor Tom who is a famous preacher around the world dies today. The rest of his life he will be remembered as Pastor Tom. Did we not think Paul or Peter was as valuable?)
I want you guys to understand why that is. These Christians understood the unity in the body of Christ. That even though some are pastors, and such, they were still equal. In fact in some cases Paul referred to himself as even less than equal than the other believers.
Ephesians 3:8a Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ..
1 Cor 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God
1 Tim 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.
This is the attitude that over the centuries the majority of the body has left. We have adopted the respect of the WORLD by doing it the way the world does it. You have to identify the President, Kings, Queens, Dr. and other highly esteemed characters in this fashion but this was NOT suppose to be the way of God.
The early Christians understood what Jesus meant when he said, Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt 20:25-28 and But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. Luke 22:26
Matt 23 8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
This is how the Kingdom of God is guys, even though we created a new norm for the body of Christ of 2011, it will never change the order of God’s family.
Finally, the best example I can give is that of God, Jesus Christ. The fact that we can go to God and call him by His NAMES is quite remarkable. We don’t have to say, MOST GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL GOD (although it’s not a bad thing) but we can simple say Elohim, Jesus, El Elyon, El Olam, Yahweh, etc. We gave us His names to be able to relate to him and does NOT require us to put a prefix before His names. Now we do that not out of respect sometimes but because of how much WE adore and love Him, but most of us will not (should not) feel less of a lover with God by going to Him with just His name.
So let’s get this straight, God doesn’t require us to put this “respectable” prefix in front of his name but we MUST do it with our “pastors”, “bishops? Paul and neither Peter felt they had the need to put this “respectable” prefix before one another’s name in their letters but we still feel we must do it with our “pastors” “bishops”. What does that say guys, Does it mean we have more respect for our earthly “leaders” than we have for God? Do we respect them more than we respect God? Something went amiss guys, over the years we have developed these traditions, traditions that seem justifiable but are actually doing more harm than good.
I pray that the body of Christ really understands this message from God to be able to see their “leaders” as a brother, a sister instead of just someone ruling over them. Let us learn to see the examples from God on how to treat one another. I know a brother and sister that taught their children to call him Brother and Sister (along with Father and Mother) but I really received what was going on here. Although they are their parents, the children are able to understand that in the body of Christ, they are brothers and sisters, that they are equal. That is a lesson that really touched me and my best friend.
Stay encouraged guys, and respect everyone in the body equally.
Love you all,