In a book entitled “Dr. Frankenstein and World Systems” Bob Mumford, in describing how systems rule our lives, quotes the philosopher David Hume. He says Hume once observed: “Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.”
Mumford goes on to say that dominion of the few over the many is contrary to the intent and wishes of Father God and that entering this kind of freedom involves tribulations. When this type of abuse of authority is exposed and we refuse to dance to its tune, we open ourselves to the antagonism of the system.
Having lived what Mumford is exposing, I can heartily agree—almost down to the “I could have said that”—degree.
He goes on to talk about the fact that systems cannot love—only people can love.
Having just come out from under a church structure that exemplified what Mumford is talking about—I can say that he is definately on to something.
I have been blogging for about 3 1/2 months and have not been ready to discuss this until today—if I am even ready to now.
However, talking with an old pastor friend of mine the other day, my eyes were opened to see the depth of what I have been set free from.
As Paul wrote his letters to the new Christians it is obvious that he was beginning the process of re-defining the role of authority in the early Church and all that it meant in the everyday lives of the believer. He had given up his life to lead the one that he had been chosen for—a man willing to die in order that the truth be known about God’s plan in the earth through Jesus Christ.
Paul was the one that said that everything he had learned in his “natural” life was like “dung” when compared to what he knew about Christ and the riches of his plan and purpose for his and our lives.
Paul was the one who said that he labored during the day making tents in order that no undue financial burden woud be placed on those he was sent to release. He had God-given authority, but didn’t presume to lord it over anyone—follow me as I follow Christ was his mantra.
It is amazing to consider the contrast to today’s leadership in many churches. And this is where is gets hard for me to explain—the subtleties of this current authority dynamic and how it plays out in many of our local churches.
Before I go any further—and to avoid confusion later—let me say that it is not the people in the church I am talking about but a force with a life of its own that has been loosed within the corporate congregation. As Mumford further explains, in biblical terms, it is a principality, a non-physical person demanding allegiance that rightfully belongs to the Lord Himself working within the church structure.
Yes, this force will use people to control and manipulate the overall church experience. This force, once it has taken on a life of its own, will lead people into the fullfillment of personal agendas, selfishness and ambition.
I can also further say that I will not cover this subject in one post—it may come up again and it may not.
What I do know is that I haven’t fully moved on from having been abused by the system. It has only been a few months and there are still a few tender areas. When we left the church we attended for 22 years, we blessed the people that stayed and prayed for the leadership as well. Our heart is for them to prosper—yet at the same time—knowing what I know now—there is an enormous struggle ahead for any that would try and come against the system.
That this scenario has played itself out all across our nation is, in once sence, a travesty—an abomination. Churches have left the wounded beaten and scattered about like wheat chaf on a windy day.
I know in my case, I pleaded with leadership to come to grips with what I felt was happening to us. Yet at the same time, when others would question our direction (I was a part of leadership as well) it seemed like it was always their problem that lead to their leaving the local assembly. That is until I became the problem myself.
I remember a story I tell about my son. It goes something like this: when your mother tells you the book cover is red, and your sister tells you the book cover is red and your dad does the same thing—and you continue to say that it is blue—we have a problem. This is not to say that he might have been right some time. But most of the time, the book cover was red, not blue.
When talking with my pastor friend, who indeed perpetuated the system I am talking about and was also, eventually, a victim of it as well, I began to see something about power and authority. He said, as we talked, that he had too much power and at the time didn’t realize it. And that people submitted to this authority as if it came directly from the Lord Himself. Because his power was not balanced by outsiders (an apostolic counsel perhaps) he continued in his abuse until he himself was offered up by the same system that he had helped flourish. Don’t get me wrong, my pastor friend is a great guy and loves the Lord—he was just a part of something that began to control him in subtle ways over the months and years of his tenure.
I don’t think he would mind my saying that. Bear in mind as we talk, we are in the process of discovering things that bit us both and that we were both to some degree unaware of.
To much power. Unregulated authority. It all boils down to us listening to other people’s opinions as to how our Christianity should be expressed in the local chruch. Paul said follow me as I follow Christ. He is the leader and founder of our faith.
I guess that is point that I have come to in my current journey—I allowed things to happen to me out of a dependence on the local church and not out of obidience to the King of Kings. I was being governed—not released into my destiny with the Lord.
When I began to realize that something was amiss—I addressed it. This was to be the first step in my tribulation with the local church. The second step was in believing that I could fix it. I couldn’t fix it. Even when I thought I had a handle on what I perceived to be wrong—the problem would morp into something else. Then the system branded me as the problem. Once that occured—it was all over except for me cleaning out my locker. I wasn’t trusted, believed, or a part of the solution anymore. I was, for all practical purposes, looking in the window from outside a faraway place.
After many meetings and many attempts to forge a path forward out of the mire that had become my everyday experience—I was released from standing at the gate by my apostolic oversight. One day we were there and the next day we were not. All very wierd and sudden—but all for the best.
It is not until you stop doing something that you begin to realize that what you had been doing wasn’t really good for you. It isn’t uniil you finally get out from under something—that you really didn’t realize you were under—and didn’t really want out from in the first place, that you begin to breath a little fresh air and have a profound change of perspective.
Not that it doesn’t still hurt—not that you don’t have good days and bad days—days when you are focused and grateful for everything that God has done for you—and days when you wonder where your next step will fall.
Spring is coming in the literal physical sence and in the spiritual dimension as well. Life is beginning to once again seem open to the possibilty that my dreams, the dreams that have been placed in my by God, will be fulfilled. Creativity and creative outlets (such as this blog) have blossomed. Old friendships are being renewed.
And, as the manure in my life is turned into fertilizer, I am once again open to the possibility that this thing called the church, the body of Christ, can bring life and healing to those in need. First in Jerusalem and then to all of Judea and the rest of the world.