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Many people seem to look toward those who take authority in the Christian world. So often we look up to those who are in leadership positions. We put our faith and trust in the pastor of our local church, or the evangelist who comes and speaks during revival services.

We tend to think that those who are in authority and leadership positions are more knowledgeable about spiritual matters, and able to lead others to God better than the normal average christian.

The truth is we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we are all capable to be leaders in the sense we can encourage and help build up those with whom we have contact along the way. Each of us are kings and priests in God’s kingdom and no one is more important or on a higher plain than anyone else.

Christian leadership is no more than brothers and sisters in Christ who have lived and experienced more in spiritual matters lending a helping hand to those who are still maturing in their walk with God. There is no position of authority in this type of leadership. It is done out of love and compassion for one another and the desire to be used by God to encourage others in their walk with Him.

What I see so often in allowing people to take authority over one another is that it places an intermediary between God and man. Fortunately, not all people in leadership positions think this way and they are serving out of true love for God and for helping their fellow believer. Yet so often we hear of people in authority that demand our allegiance. They insist we listen to them and follow what they teach or else. This is a great misuse of authority in the christian world today.

ServantLeadership

I do not believe there are offices of authority and leadership in the sense we hear about it today. Those who have been given positions of leadership in the body of Christ are not in a higher standing than anyone else. They are to lead by example out of love for those who are still learning like everyone else. They are to be encouragers by example, helping build up their fellow believers into maturity.

Ephesians 4:11,12 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.

The true meaning of leadership by God’s standards is servanthood. Thinking more of others than you do yourself. So often it seems like just the opposite with men and women thinking they are the ones with authority and knowledge.

Matthew 20:25,26 but Jesus called them to Himself and said, you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.

What I believe is the final authority among Christians is the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The bible can be used by the Spirit as a guide and help, but the bible is only a tool the Spirit uses. Apart from the Spirit there is no final authority in any person or book.

Although we can learn from the bible and we can learn from one another and their experiences, it is the Spirit of Jesus from within us who is the final authority and the head of the body known as the Church. The Church is not a building, not a denomination or an organization, it is each of us who are equally functioning and necessary parts of the body of Christ.

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This post is part of the June Synchroblog in which numerous bloggers around the world write about the same topic on the same day. Links to the other contributors are below. If you enjoyed this article, you will also enjoy reading what they have to say about the topic of Authority.

Authority for Believers – Soulcare Ministries

Who Gets To Say What Is Right Or Wrong? – What God May Really Be Like

A Surprising Source of Spiritual Authority – Glenn Hager

Is it the Bible or Jesus that is authoritative for Christians? ANSWER: Yes – Jeremy Myers

Surrendering Our Authority To Jesus – K. W. Lesley

Under Who’s Authority – Layman Seeker

authority? – Metler

The Age of the Spirit – Liz Dyer

 

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Sunday after Sunday for many years my wife and I have ‘gone to church’. We sat in a pre-planned service, being entertained, listening to one person tell us what God was saying and looking at the back of the head of the person sitting quietly in front of us.

Each week we sat there, not having the opportunity to say what was on our minds, no chance to talk and get to know our brothers and sisters sitting all around us. We were told this was good fellowship, meaningful worship, and that we would be learning more about God each week. More like learning more about that particular doctrine and belief about God from the perspective of the pastor.

Truthfully, we were getting so tired of this religious social club environment. We were not getting anything out of this experience and we certainly were not putting anything into it…..other than our money when the offering basket went past. We have become tired of the religious enterprise with its pre-planned services, the CEO and board of directors, along with the gimmicks and programs designed to ‘bring the people in’ especially when we were told to go out into the world.

church-people-or-building

We are finding that true community is believers living their daily lives with one another by caring, loving, assisting, encouraging and building one another up. This is what is known as the Church. It is fellow believers living daily for Christ, not a once a week trip to a building and sitting there for an hour.

We are followers of Christ going about our normal daily business living with Christ as our head rather than a pastor. We live as one with Christ, letting his life and love touch others each and every day. We assemble with our brothers and sisters in Christ any day, anywhere. Sunday is not the Lord’s day but every day is the day the Lord has made. God’s house is not a building where we gather with people of similar beliefs. God’s house is us, His people, those of us who have accepted His grace. We are called to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, not just those who believe like we do.

It has been good for us to stop being part of the Sunday morning crowd at the building of our choosing. It has us looking to God more, listening for His voice and allowing the Spirit to teach us rather than one man. It has us loving and accepting people as they are, not just those who believe like us. The Church is meant to be a community, living, loving and caring for one another each and every day.

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As I was reading over a few articles recently, I came across one that was about the eight most controversial topics in the church today.

I read through the article and had to agree, these are eight things that can be very controversial. And as we all know we can basically take verses from the bible and show why we believe the way we do in regard to each topic.

I am not going to go into my views on these topics, but just for information here are the topics the article listed as most controversial: gay marriage; abortion; women in leadership; type of worship music; spiritual gifts; baptism; politics from the pulpit; and alcohol.

Obviously, there are many more topics in the church today that can be very controversial. We as Christians are never going to agree on any of the listed topics yet we are entitled to our views and interpretations.

The problem comes in when we decide to stand and defend our view by judging others, condemning others and fighting amongst ourselves to prove our point.

John1721

What bothers me is the way we divide up the body of Christ based on our personal views on various issues. I personally do not believe that the body of Christ was meant to be divided. Jesus prayed in John 17:21 that they may all be one, even as You, Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

Yet today we seem to be divided against one another according to denomination, doctrine and various other topics in our world. We divide over LGBT issues, race, gender identity, equality for women, inerrancy of the bible, politics, universal salvation or eternal hell. Come up with a topic and we will find a way to disagree over it.

The bible mentions in Galatians 3:28 that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is the way it should be today. We are all one in Christ Jesus no matter what our personal beliefs and interpretations.

Jesus said, by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. He was talking about a godly love for fellow believers. Jesus also said love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds to me like he is saying to love all people.

We are not going to agree on everything. We are not going to be in complete harmony on all issues, yet we can love, respect and treat each other with a godly love that comes from the Spirit that lives within us. Rather than judging and condemning others who see things differently, accept them with their differences and let of love of God flow out to touch those around you.

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As I look over various postings on social media, it does not take long to realize there are a wide variety of opinions in the christian world. Various biblical interpretations and views on christian doctrine, gun control and a wide variety of issues of our day.

The sad thing is that so often I see the opinions expressed get turned into arguments, name calling and sometimes what seems to be down-right hatred toward one another.

ArguingoverDoctrine

It is sad that we who are christians and supposed to be known for our love for one another get so caught up on arguing over doctrine and interpretation. Why is it we cannot accept that we all have a different view and opinion. We all have a different way of seeing things and interpreting the bible.

As I was in a waiting room the other day, a lady walked in and I heard her tell the receptionist that she was recently widowed. That got me to thinking how a major change in our lives can change our priorities.

When a person hears that they have a serious health condition, or they lose a loved one all the differences of opinion, biblical interpretation and doctrine seem to become less important. The arguing over our views and opinions all of a sudden lose their meaning.

It is times like this that many people come together and encourage and support those who are going through a rough time. It is great that this happens and it is the way it should be.

Yet it is disappointing that it takes a bad situation to bring people together. Why is it we cannot express our views and opinions and accept there are going to be differences of opinion? Why is it we cannot accept one another in our differences and treat one another with respect?

LoveOneAnother

There is certainly nothing wrong with having an opinion. Having different interpretations of the bible and various views on doctrine is normal and good. We can learn from one another when we reasonably discuss these differences. But when we get offended, when we get mad and feel we have to prove our point, that is where the problems begin.

We need to get to a place in our lives that we can discuss our views, listen to the views of others and accept one another in our differences. People need to see that christian people are a family who can love and accept one another whether we completely agree or not.

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It can be hard accepting the fact that God lives within us. For years we were taught God is in heaven and if we follow the commandments and do good things, one day we will go to heaven and live with him face to face. We have an image of God sitting on a throne in heaven and we are far, far away down on earth.

god is here

Pastors will tell us that God will show up now and then at a special meeting, or when a special service is planned and the Spirit will fall upon us. Yet we know that God is with us all the time and the Spirit fell on the human race two thousand years ago.

The more I read, I am finding that we really have the whole thing backwards.

The Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ and we are living under a New Covenant. We no longer have to try to be good enough. The law was a tutor that led us to Christ, but now that Christ has come and restored fellowship between God and people we no longer need a tutor. We are free from the law and we are children of God through the gift of his grace.

Jesus came to live among us and show us the love of God. When Jesus left, he said he would send us the Spirit. God has now come to live within us. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one with God, just as he and the Father are one.

Sounds to me that we are missing the main point. We do not have to wait to die and go to heaven to enjoy kingdom living. We do not have to wait to be united with the Father. We no longer need to look to a human guide, teacher or preacher. We have the living, powerful, perfect Word of God living inside us who is the Spirit of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with listening to others, getting their thoughts and ideas and being encouraged by other believers, but we do not need to rely on other humans. We have the Spirit within us, teaching us and guiding us in the way he has for us.

We do not have to look up in the sky and speak words to some far-away place and wonder if God is listening. We can turn our thoughts inward and realize the Spirit is right there within us, listening, loving us and ready to teach us as we begin to hear his voice from within.

We are all at different stages along the path we walk with him, and we need to remember none of us have it all figured out. We so often want to fight and argue from the understanding we currently have without realizing that we have not reached completion. There is more the Spirit wants to teach us as we become ready to accept it.

For my wife and me, we have changed a lot over the past few years but we realize we have not come to perfection. We will continue to change over the next few years also. So why argue over doctrine, interpretations and beliefs as if we had it all figured out and everyone else is wrong. We all have more to learn as we walk with the Spirit each day.

We should come to accept each other where we are currently, realizing what we know and believe today will more likely change as we continue to walk under the guidance of the Spirit. We can love each other, learn from one another and accept each other as we are, just like Jesus loves and accepts us just as we are.

KingdomofGodwithinYou

We should be looking deep within ourselves, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit rather than putting all hope in others, and to those we think are more spiritual because they have been trained, educated and paid to do so. Remember, we are all kings and priests and have the same Spirit within us. Each of us are equal and important parts of the body with Christ as the head. His Church is not a building, not a denomination but people.

This is not saying we are all God, but the Spirit lives within us and we are one with our Father. It would do us all good to start focusing on this fact rather than what we have been taught in the past, that being one with God is a future event after we die. Kingdom living is now. Listening to the Spirit, being taught by him and living day by day in communion with the Father is a reality that we all need to realize is happening now.

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One big sore spot with me within the christian religion is listening to big-named evangelists and preachers tell us we need to give them our money so they can go forth and proclaim the gospel.

money

They will pile up big bank accounts, nice houses, huge buildings, expensive jets, cars and who knows what else, all under the guise of being able to proclaim to gospel to more people.

Many times the money they raise is coming from people who can barely afford to meet living expenses day to day. They will give money to these people because they are told it will help them better spread the gospel around the world. They are also told they are robbing from God if they do not give.

If I understand what I read in the bible, Jesus and his twelve disciples turned the world upside down with their love and by teaching the good news that God loves them. I do not remember reading about how much money they had, or how many luxuries they had that helped them spread the gospel.

It really bothers me that the money spent buying these people some of the luxuries of life could be used to help many starving, homeless, jobless people across our country or around the world.

As christians, we are all called to proclaim the gospel. We do so in the way we live. We are to show love to all people and help those in need with the means we have been given.

We are not under the old covenant law that said bring ten percent into the storehouse. We should give to help others, but not out of obligation. We are to give out of love and that amount we have determined without our own heart to give.

PriesthoodofBelievers

No person, man or woman, should be looked upon as more important or more spiritually holy than anyone else. We are to be a priesthood of all believers with no one more important than another.

Rather than focus on those who are demanding we give them our money to support the kingdom of God, let us follow after the example of Jesus by loving all people and using the money, gifts and talents he has given us to help those we can directly.

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Several of my past articles have mentioned modern day church and how it is off base from what it was intended. I want to make clear that I am not against church, but I also want to make clear what I mean when I say church.

Normally when the word church is mentioned, we think of a building we go to on a certain day to learn about and worship God. We also think in terms of how much we go to church as being a guide to how spiritual we are, or how close we are to God. We think of the doctrines, rules and regulations placed on us by the church as ways to make us better Christians.

Church

I think we need to reset our thinking. The Church is not a building. The Church is the bride of Christ, all of us who are saved by grace. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The building is just a place where we can meet and conduct spiritual meetings. It is another place to enjoy christian fellowship. Rather than see church as a place we go, we are to be the Church daily living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and showing the love of God to all people.

Another area where we confuse the meaning of words is in regard to the word of God. When we talk about the word of God we usually think of the Bible. The Bible is inspired by God, but the true living Word of God is Jesus. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus is the Word of God.

WordofGod1

Far to often we christians put too much emphasis on the Bible, sometimes even thinking of it as part of the trinity. Remember it is not Father, Son and Holy Bible. Again, the Bible is written by men but is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. It is certainly profitable to read the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but we need to focus on the fact that the Word of God is alive and living within each of us as followers of Christ.

Although it may seem unimportant on how we think of church or the Bible, I think it is very important that we understand what is really meant. The old mindset of a building and a book need to be replaced with the fact that the Church are those of us who are redeemed through the blood of Christ and the Word of God is Christ Himself, alive and living within us.

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