Sunday, February 17, 2013

Things We Get Wrong (1 Timothy 5:17-25)

[17] Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. [18] For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” [19] Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. [20] As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. [21] In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. [22] Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. [23] (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) [24] The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. [25] So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
(1 Timothy 5:17-25 ESV)

People look to this passage to justify vocational ministry. (They are not exactly wrong in doing so.) However, the way the industry of religious professionals has developed is not what this single verse is about. There is probably a whole book worth of content on how we do professional church leadership wrong these days. The fact that elders are hired guns that climb a career ladder and usually remain outside the local family is just the tip of the iceberg.

Then again, this whole remaining paragraph here could be labeled “things about which the church ignores the Bible.” We generally don’t handle accusations this way, and we don’t judge true violations this way. We appoint far too many people to positions too hastily and we drag our feet too much with others. We make up all sorts of laws that shouldn’t be violated like the way we handle (or don’t) alcohol; and worse, we cloud the waters when it comes to true sin with all of our legalistic traditions.

What it all boils down to (when these problems are readily apparent) is that the church has ceased to be a family and a household and has become a traditional institution of a cultural, man-made religion. We need to get back to being a community of faith.

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