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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Personal / Mel's Odd Stuff / Comment List Welcome Guest

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    It's puzzling, isn't it, that Jesus tells us in Matthew not to call any man "Father" or "Teacher" (Matt. 23:8-12), and yet Paul later lists offices or roles within the Body of Christ that have specific titles (Eph. 4:10-13).

    Matt. 23:8-12: "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

    Eph. 4:10-13: "He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's 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."

    This is one of those times when a Bible-literate nonbeliever would say, "See, there's a place where the Bible contradicts itself." However, that person would be missing the bigger point because he/she would have done just what I did - lift the verses from the page (or in this case, web page) and use them out of context.

    Jesus was talking about the religious leaders of the day, who loved to be called by their titles as though that gave them some sort of status in the community. I don't know if he literally meant we shouldn't give our church leaders titles; otherwise, why would the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to write what he did in Ephesians? I think Jesus was telling us not to get hung up on the titles and thus put the title-bearers on a pedestal.

    Mel, it seems you understand this well. Not having an official title frees you to function as you believe God would have you function.

    A good example of this is with my pastor. He has a doctoral degree, so some folks (especially those connected with the school system where he's a teacher) only feel comfortable calling him Dr. Fisher. Some folks call him Pastor or Brother Fisher, since that's primarily how they know him. Me, I just call him Rodney.

    Why? Well, when I first started at my current church, I asked to meet with him one evening to sound him out on a few matters of doctrine and practice. My previous church had been more charismatic in flavor, and before I made a decision about joining I needed to know how this congregation would respond to such things as dancing during praise and worship or praying in tongues during an altar call. Those things weren't in evidence there, and I needed to know if I would be asked to leave if I did them. Fortunately, I was assured that they had no problem with me dancing or praying in tongues, so long as I was doing it in the right spirit and not disrupting the flow of the service.

    During that meeting, I also asked Rodney how he preferred to be addressed, and he said, "Rodney," so I call him by his first name.

    Rodney isn't hung up on being called "Pastor," just as he doesn't dress like a stereotypical pastor or speak like one. He recognizes that he's just a man who God called to serve. It makes him approachable by both congregation members and people he meets in his daily life as a fifth grade teacher and the owner of a small working horse ranch where stable services and riding lessons are offered.

    We all need to have that kind of attitude; whatever we're called to do, it's for God's glory, not our exaltation. The need to be recognized is understandable, but it can become a snare if we're not careful. Mel, it seems you have a solid grip on that concept, so keep on doing what you're doing, brother!

    2006-09-25 12:54:51 Posted by Traci ()

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