Ploughing through my book on church history I’ve reached the French Revolution and as the centuries pass by a recurring theme seems to play itself over and over again.
Jesus once said these words
‘You know that the rulers of the heathen lord it over them and that their great ones have absolute power? But it must not be so among you. No, whoever wants to be great must become the servant of you all, and if he wants to be first among you he must be your slave – just as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to set many others free’
Well it’s hard to see how that command of Jesus fits with the words of someone like Pope Innocent III who said of his position way back around AD 1200
‘The successor of Peter is the Vicar of Christ:he has established as a mediator between God and man, below God but beyond man; less than God but more than man; who shall judge all and be judged by no one.’
The author of the book also mentions about how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples while subjects(?) had to kiss the pope’s feet.
Of course that was a long time ago but it seems pretty clear that Jesus was telling the apostles that they should be leading in a completely different sort of way to the pagans.
This was Jesus who practiced what he preached as well, it wasn’t just some type of fancy theory that he said about leading but then didn’t follow through on.
He was cursed and exiled, beaten to pulp and lonely and led like a lamb to the slaughter. He washed the disciples feet. It’s there right at the start, as plain as the nose on your face.
That’s was what being great looked liked.
Yet reading through church history (and you won’t need me to point this out) much of it doesn’t seem to be like that.
Church leaders have continually lorded it over people, over and over and again. And it’s not just the Pope’s in the days of yore. And it’s not just the Catholics either back in the days of yore, it’s Protestants today I guess for that is my branch of the Christian tree.
The author of the book has pointed out a few times that society was different back then so while we look on in horror now at the time it wasn’t considered unusual to execute someone for heresy but I say ‘bollocks’ to that.
The plain fact is that Jesus said that we shouldn’t lead like that, we should wash each others feet and serve each other. Does the Jesus we encounter in the gospels and who said ‘take up your cross and follow me’ sound like the type to be launching a Spanish Inquistion?
Paul was responsible for killing lots of heretics in his day but once he met Jesus he gave up that up.
Killing heretics doesn’t seem to be part of the way things should ever go down. But hey they did.
All this would be easy to dismiss as from another time when things where different except for the way that it still seems to go down that way. Church leadership seems to be for the ‘movers and shakers’ and certain Christian leaders like John Piper can cause a sh*t storm when they say that the Biblical pattern for a Godly man is a certain way and the batallions of reformed evangelical church leaders line up behind him in agreement and tell the women to stand back while they take charge as God has commanded.
I was originally going to forget about this blog but my wife and I got talking tonight and we realized that the attitude is still around and the struggle is how much you submit to church tradition or the way things are done.
Again we’re all a mess and if you have men with messy hearts you will have a messy church and institution just like any messy institution like the banks or government
that the church should be different if it’s real and really has the Spirit of Christ living in it.
World leaders might kill those that threaten their regime of power but it should never be like that in a church.
Yet we still do. Not literally but metaphorically.
In closing I guess a lot of my struggle is how much I’m on board with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland or the branch of Christianity I’ve inherited.