Over the last couple of years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying Christian history and many things pertaining to faith during my time as an undergrad student. What I’ve noted in many of my Christian-based courses is one thing which should not have been a surprise to me, but at the same time, I know that it does not speak well of who we are as a body of believers and the state of our progress.
In the Old Testament, the people of Israel needlessly spent 40 years in the wilderness going in circles all because they did not have faith to agree that God was all they needed to overcome the people in the land of the Promise. Only Joshua and Caleb and the children who grew up in the wilderness got to enter in. They had no faith in God or Moses who represented Him. Neither did they have faith that they could have a personal relationship with God as a priest nation.
In the New Testament, the early Christians grew comfortable in their temples and put faith in the apostles who taught them the oracles of faith. Paul saw a danger in this, in essence stating that you have one group of Christians aligning themselves to Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas (See 1 Cor. 1:12-17 and 1 Cor. 3:4-15). Paul argued that this thought or mentality was divisive to the body of Christ.
What I recognize, even more now than ever before, is that people today are exactly the same as those early Christians. Some are still saying I am of Martin Luther or John Calvin. You have people today also saying I am of T. D. Jakes or Bill Johnson or Brian Houston.
At the end of Paul’s appeal to the people of Corinth, he admonishes them in both the 4th and the 11th chapters that they should be followers or imitators of him, not for the sake of having the follow him, but in the context of recognizing that he was leading them to follow after Christ.
We live in a generation who still align themselves to celebrated pastors and theologians rather than the Christ who saved and empowered them to have a personal relationship with a personal God and access to a Heavenly Kingdom.
If we are to ever become a people who manifest God’s glory in the earth, we must be willing to know that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who are sent forth to establish us in faith are like us; human and still with frailties and failings. With that knowledge, we must also be willing to accept that they are not God or Christ, but are as Moses, desiring that we would be a people who will say “Yes, we will be God’s royal priesthood, having a personal relationship with a personal God in and through Christ.”
The leaders of today may not always walk perfectly in faith because just like us, they are being perfected and matured to the level of their capacity to receive revelation. The leaders of today may not always have the same sociological, political, economic perspectives as we do. That does not make them bad people or false prophets or teachers. It merely means they have differing opinions based on their unique experiences.
If they fall, we have just as much of a responsibility to lift them up, much like we’d desire to be lifted up when we fall. If they need encouragement, we are to minister to them, even as Christ required ministry after his confrontation with satan in the wilderness. We are one body and must act as such if we are to face the many assaults that even Christ said we would face for his name’s sake. Just as the early Church was persecuted so that the word would be carried to every part of the known world at that time, we too must be resolute that we will face opposition as people become aware of the power of Christ to upset the kingdoms of men.
It is important to know that we are not to be followers of men and women, but of Christ, even as those in leadership have been placed in a position to grow and mature us as a body of believers who follow this same Jesus as sons and daughters of God.
QUESTION: How do you respond to those who seem to have more faith in men and women of God than their personal faith in God?