Jul 2, 2009

Sunday Service: The Name is Saint, Saint James.

When I speak to brothers and sisters in Christ I always hope to have conversations that edify and encourage one another. This is a primary motivating factor for me, and it is something I enjoy doing very much. In some of these conversations I'm positive that there are things I say that disturb, concern, or sometimes even offend (albeit unintentionally), and likewise in return. One of the things that I've alarmingly noticed more than before is the usage of titles when describing other believers, referencing them and their works, or when addressing them.

For instance, the term "Pastor" used in the manner that indicates position or stature. Most the occurrences that have caused concern is when I hear it used by people as if it were a proper name. "Pastor says that he's going to have a sloppy joe and then hit the sack, or Pastor is excited about his new set of commentaries, and Hey, Pastor! How are you?" For the sake of argument, and to the contrary of belief that I abhor authority or leadership, I have nothing against knowing someone as fulfilling the duties of the gifting they have received from our Lord, or better yet, put that gifting to use in the gathering of the Saints through servitude and humility. It is a great honor and a high calling to be placed into a position that will call for greater accountability before the Lord and a gift that should not be taken lightly.

However, the centrality of the pastoral position in the modern service has skewed our perceptions of the gifting itself and what the tenants of it's application may be in the gathering of the Saints. A report of the social tendencies and common behaviors of mankind to elevate others to positions of celebrity or authoritative status could easily indicate (historically, statistically, and definitively) that it is not uncommon for leaders to rise to a status of high importance amongst their respective groups. So is it easier to be led by men and therefore preferable, or is it better to be led by Christ and follow His commands?

The argument can, and probably will be made that following after a pastor is obeying the commands of Christ because the scripture states that we should submit to our elders (1 Peter 5:5). Or, is this a bad example of what elders are, what their functions are, and the roles of the rest of the members in the body? I think something could be said for the importance of knowing these things, and most importantly re-assessing the role of clergy and laity while comparing it to the priesthood of all believers,

The sacrificial death of Jesus Christ annulled the Aaronic priesthood, as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews. There is no need to continue offering up literal expiatory sacrifices. As the perfect Son of God and High Priest, Jesus established a new covenant (Heb. 9:15-22) with better promises (Heb. 8:6) when he offered himself (Heb. 7:27) as the perfect victim once for all (Heb. 7:27) as our substitute (Heb. 7:27) and ransom (Heb. 9:15). By his death he took away our sins (Heb. 9:28), made us perfect (Heb. 10:14), obtained for us eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12), opened a new and living way in and through him to God's throne of grace, and sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12). He now invites every believer with a clean conscience (Heb. 9:14) to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19) to offer continually spiritual sacrifices (Heb. 13:15-16) as priests in Christ. (See Reference)

But yet, why do we see the pastor revered as if he were the sole mediator or more important than ourselves or others, and why do we replace their names with "Pastor" proper as if he is no longer a man or brother, servant, saint, co-laborer?

I suppose today, I'll just be Saint James. Matter of fact, from here on out, I wish to be known as Saint. If for some odd reason this post infers that I have an aversion to authority or calling folks pastor, you're deadon to the latter, but maybe in need of further inquiry on the former.

Peace be with you,


Anonymous said...

Couple of thoughts as this has been much discussed lately...

The odd thing about the modern "system" is that the word of God gives pastors no more "importance" then prophets and evangelists. Eph 4:11-13, 1 Cor 12:27-30

It is the elders of the Church that we are to submit to and that only in the areas in which they have authority which is overseeing the flock to protect them from wolves. Acts 20:17-31, Heb 13:17

To complicate it, we know not all elders teach, that is fill the role of the modern day "pastor" 1 Tim 5:17-19

So that leaves me scratching my head as to where we got the concept of taking this one position and elevating it so high above the others, EVEN above other elders!

Further more what exactly is a pastor if Paul lists them seperately from teachers (Eph 4:11-13)?

I'll sit back down in my pew and keep quiet now... come Lord Jesus!

-your brother in the northern burbs

Arthur Sido said...

It drove me nuts when people called me "Pastor" like that was my first name. Not "Pastor Sido" or "Pastor Arthur", just "Pastor".

Men have always sought to have a human rule over them in place of the King. We like what we can see and what we can touch, whether it is a human ruler or a golden calf.

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” (1 Sam 8: 4-9)

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