Saturday, May 5, 2007

Brothers and Sisters

Have you ever had a fight with an older sibling who is left in charge while Mom and Dad are out? Sometimes, it’s just like all out war. When Mom and Dad do get home, there is lots of finger pointing and sometimes deep seated resentments that build up over the years.

Growing up in the kingdom of God has a lot to with overcoming these childish tendencies. Paul said it this way,
1Cor 13:11 (NIV) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

As we come to understand our position as sons and daughters of God, there should be a parallel maturing to understand our relationship with each other as brothers and sisters. The most often used term to define our relationship within the New Testament is brethren (brothers and sisters). It is used more than 300 times while the total number of the function terms, (pastor, elder, apostle, teacher, overseer, prophet, evangelist), are used less than 50 times in total.

When do you arrive at that position of equality? When does a new born baby acquire the position of being a brother or sister to older siblings?

Is it wrong to defer to those that are ahead of us? Of course not. Unless that deferring continues beyond normal maturing in our lives. What I mean by this is that it is normal for a younger brother to look up to an older brother, but when that continues well into adulthood, it’s down right icky. They should be peers and understand themselves that way.

Oddly enough the positional, hierarchal model that is prevalent in churches only gives the idea of brother/sister equality, meaningless lip service. The idea for many parishioners within institutional church models to think of themselves as peers to their pastors is almost sacrilegious. Consequently, instead of maturity, childish thinking is rampant. It’s almost like they see their pastor as a babysitter to contend with or give in to.

I remember an older sister in a church that I was pastoring being angry with me because I didn’t motivate her through guilt by using more fire and brimstone type of preaching. She had been a Christian for more than 60 years and was still acting like a little child in her understanding of her position within the body of Christ. My position as a pastor somehow stunted her growth. She never saw me as a peer but she did get ticked with me like younger children do with their older siblings, from time to time.

Why is it so difficult to understand that we are all to mature into being peers (adult brothers and sisters), with equal authority and varying responsibilities?

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