Thursday, August 30, 2007

Strong Serve the Weak

My wife is back to teaching next week and this propelled these thoughts about the strong serving the weak.

Matt 20:25 (NIV) Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Churches are notorious for having authority figures run roughshod over parishioners. It’s almost epidemic in that the strong demand the weak to serve them. The weak are instructed to show up “weakly” as a religious rite in order for them to know who is over them. Buildings are built to herd the weak together to remind them of their weakness and have them pay for the reminders. In some settings permission is needed to even have people in their own homes. This is done in the name of unity and care but the reality is that it is just another mechanism of control.

How did this happen considering Jesus’ own words that this “lording over” should never exist within His body? The kingdom of God being lived out by us should not remotely look like the natural way of hierarchical leadership that is known in almost every culture.

How then are the strong/great/mature to serve the “weak/young/immature”?

My wife is preparing for her new class of junior kindergartners that are taking their first journey away from mom into the big new world of school. It seems rather ironic to me that the school system required my wife to get two degrees in order to know best how to serve these young uns. Essentially her goal this year will be to help these four year olds to understand routines, getting along and enjoy going to school. Are these valuable principles? Of course. In fact it may be one of the most important years for how these 4 year olds will see themselves for the rest of their lives. To put it another way year 4 will have a greater impact in their lives than say year 28.

What about all the knowledge my wife has? She could become frustrated through not being able to use all that she has learned unless the principle of the strong serving the weak is understood. It’s not about getting them to her level but her humbling herself to get down to theirs. Will Therrie enjoy teaching this year? Absolutely. She knows it’s not about her but about them.

Does the typical church system cater to sons and daughters or does it re-enforce ideas that we are sheep to be managed and herded? It seems to me that one of greatest emphasis is for new believers, if there are any, to fit into the established culture of whatever the strong have established. The strong serving the new/weak is almost non-existent. Pastors generally preach sermons that are either "light" or "deep" but the truth is that its not possible for this type of teaching model to serve the whole. We don't teach that way in our schools or universities and yet religious thinking allows this crime to be perpetuated each and every week. Does anyone ever graduate from the Sunday sermon?Releashing people to grow outside of the established doctrines and practices of any particular group of people is unheard of and would be considered blasphemous. After all, the strong group has it ALL figured out.

Be thankful if the system you’re in strengthens the weak with the intent that as they mature that their greatest joy will be to serve others in a way that is timely, personal and with great respect.

Hopefully the strong will learn that being flexible and responsive to the needs of the “weak” is what it's all about. Jesus definitely modeled this as he sat and laughed with "sinners". Serving the weak will give us an abundant, joyful life. Jesus experienced that joy even as it led Him to the cross. Enter into His joy.


Nick Hourd said...

Good points all. I am curious though, did you MEAN to say "releashing", or releasing. I think the way you have written it, intentional or not is pretty typical of how institutionalized churches "release" people: We are releasing you to be completely free to serve God as He has called you, as long as you {insert long list of conditions never to be found in scripture}.

David Grant said...

"releash" really is a typo but the picture of a leash does fit with the theme of this blog.