Liberty in Relational Organic Christianity (part 2)
We had to make a transition in the beginning when it was just twelve of us, because at one point I had been in the formal religious system. These dozen of us had come out of a much larger group of which I’d been a “pastor.” We moved a twelve-hour drive away to get far enough away from the bondage of the terrorist activity of the traditions of men.
And by the way, we weren’t thrown out of that religious facility. They begged us to stay and there were tears and all of that. There were absolutely no factions or splits or anything like that. The elders even asked me to write a book describing what we were going to do. It’s called “The Bride Prepared for the Return of Christ.” You may have seen that booklet? But that was what they asked me to do when I was leaving the denominational system and resigning as “pastor.” They said, “Please, if you won’t stay, can you at least describe to us what it is you’re doing instead.” And so I wrote that while I was still there as their “pastor.”
So we came to this other state halfway across the country to begin to try to live a normal Christian life together, instead of with all the religious baggage. But the problem was that they couldn’t see me differently for a while. They still wanted to defer to me. They still wanted to look at me to start the meetings even though I was refusing to do that.
There was a transition time. It’s like the Happy Birthday thing where you’ve got to feel your way through it and decide what you want to keep. I of course want to keep loving my child. And it’s probably a good thing that they generally know how old they are because they may have to fill out some paper work for their job application someday. :) Okay, so I’m not afraid for them to know how old they are. But what I don’t want them to be is greedy and materialistic. I don’t want them to have expectations or pressure or to put pressure on anybody else. There are certain spiritual principles about things such as “birthdays” that are totally unacceptable. So how do I keep the good and eliminate the bad?
So with us, I had whatever gift, when there were twelve of us twenty years ago. I didn’t have a right to stop being a Christian and I didn’t have a right to stop offering whatever I could offer. But what I couldn’t tolerate any more were expectations that were based on rituals and traditions of men.
So there were times when I would just walk out of the room. We’d be sitting around, and they would be staring at me to “start the meeting” and I’d say, “Look guys, if you’re waiting on me to start the meeting, I’ll make it easy for you. I’m leaving. Bye.” I’d sneak back in twenty minutes later when they were singing and praying, and then I could just be a brother. But it took me a pretty good while to break that trance and hypnosis. Because everybody in the religious world has a way of thinking: “We want a king like the other nations. We want a ‘pastor’ like the other denominations.” I was willing to be a brother and be a gift amongst other gifts, but I was no longer willing to be a positioned leader.
So somebody to help bring some order to a situation—the gift of administration or the gift of leadership—is a fine thing. There’s no problem with that. But it functions “as a brother amongst brothers” as Jesus said to the twelve apostles, instead of as the meeting starter, the meeting ender and the official teacher. “Okay, we’re all sitting here waiting for a teaching.” C’mon! That ain’t happenin’! I’m not doing that anymore.
By allowing myself to be seated on that platform or on that throne everybody’s been brain-dirtied into thinking is the way church is supposed to be—if I had kept sitting there, then there wouldn’t be any room on that throne for Jesus.
So we needed to break this bad habit of people expecting me to do stuff for them. They needed to learn that if Jesus lives inside of them, they could actually let Jesus express Himself. They didn’t need me to be involved, for Jesus to be raised from the dead, and living and active and to express Himself. As long as I’m in the way, it’s going to be a problem.
So I had to find some ways to break the habit. Maybe I was there or maybe I wasn’t there. Maybe I was there at first and then left, or I intentionally came a half hour late. I had to find ways to force everybody to knock me off that throne in their heart so Jesus could take that place. And after a period of time everybody got the hang of it.
Perhaps had I never been their “pastor” in another state and had they never viewed me that way, perhaps it never would have been a problem. But I think it actually still would have been a problem, because people always want to take the easy way. They’re always looking for somebody to fill in that gap of the vacuum of their own weaknesses and fears. They don’t want to take responsibility.
So that’s part of the process. That’s part of the gift of leadership is leading other people into using their gifts properly and learning how to stay out of the way creatively. “I must decrease. He must increase.” John the Baptist did some stuff, but his whole goal was to do less and less and less. His goal was not to do more and more and more the way the pastoral system works.