Only One Leader, Jesus

What did Jesus really teach about the authority of pastors and other church leaders? Does God expect you to do what your church leader says and be obedient? Do you even need a pastor or church leader?

When children of God comes together there is nothing wrong with someone taking the lead and making things a bit more organized. There is nothing wrong with choosing a leader for a specific group or gathering.

However, the idea that your pastor (church leader) is your spiritual leader and you should be obedient to him otherwise you are not obedient to God is a lie! This type of authority is not from God.
But do not be called Rabbi (Teacher); for One is your Teacher, and you are all [equally] brothers. Do not call anyone on earth [who guides you spiritually] your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not let yourselves be called leaders or teachers; for One is your Leader (Teacher), the Christ - Matthew 23:8-10 (AMP)
Jesus was clear, you have ONE Leader!

But doesn't the Bible instruct us to obey our leaders?

Obey your [spiritual] leaders and submit to them [recognizing their authority over you], for they are keeping watch over your souls and continually guarding your spiritual welfare as those who will give an account [of their stewardship of you]. Let them do this with joy and not with grief and groans, for this would be of no benefit to you. - Hebrews 13:17
Again, it only makes sense to choose leaders - but just like any other human leader there is a limit to their aurhority. There is a point where you need to decide if you want to be obedient to men or to God. I do not believe Paul ment we should be obedient and follow spiritual leaders even if you don't agree with them.

The verse above does say that we should submit to 'our leaders' - but Jesus was very clear - only He is our Leader.

The verse above as well as all other verses about church leadership and 'offices' comes from people like Paul and the author of Hebrews - people that were not perfect. They (Paul and the author of Hebrews) came from a very religious background and had a difficult time with some of the teachings of Jesus (more on Paul and this problem later in this article).

Don't get me wrong - Paul did amazing things and there is a lot we can learn from him. I study his letters in the Bible almost daily. He did not know Jesus personally but knew people that did.
His contribution to the Bible is invaluable - but he was not Jesus. He made mistakes. He was human.

Not every word they said was the 'Word of God'. Yes, they were filled with the Holy Spirit  but so are a lot of us - no where in the Bible does it say you become perfect when filled with the Holy Spirit.

If you believe that every verse in the Bible is the 'Word of God' - then you are wrong. Read the article 'Is every verse in the Bible the Word of God?

People want to be important

Even when Jesus was with the disciples He had to address the issue of  'wanting to be leaders'.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles have absolute power and lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them [tyrannizing them].  It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant - Matthew 20:25-26 (AMP)
Again, could Jesus be any clearer on this point?  His followers should not be like the rest of the world. So why do churches today have the same hierarchical structure as religions and businesses. There are 'head pastors', 'senior pastors' and then they still have to report to the head office (of course they call it something else).

Jesus did not start one single church as we have it today. He started a following. Jesus instructed us to make disciples that in turn then will make more disciples. He never said we should start churches. He talked about ONE church that had ONE Leader and the word he used also did not mean church but 'following' or calling out as explained in detail in the article  Spiritual But Not Religious.

Jesus preached in many different places - not once did He appoint a leader before He moved on to the next area.

People want others to be less important - Enter the Deacons

Jesus never appointed deacons. The verses used for the appointment of deacons by churches is however interesting and shows us again how people just want to be important and appoint themselves above others.
Now about this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, a complaint was made by the [a]Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) against the [[b]native] Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2 So the [c]Twelve called the disciples together and said, “It is not appropriate for us to neglect [teaching] the word of God in order to serve tables and manage the distribution of food. 3 Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4 But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected [d]Stephen, a man full of faith [in Christ Jesus], and [filled with and led by] the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (Nikolaos), a proselyte (Gentile convert) from Antioch.- Acts 6:1-5 (AMP)
This is not God appointing deacons in the church. The disciples wanted to be 'important' when Jesus was still with them, so it is no surprise that the same problem surfaced after Jesus left.

Remember, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, but nowhere in the Bible does it say that when you are filled with the Holy Spirit you become perfect. The early church, the church of Acts, was not perfect. 

There were disciples that neglected to look after those in need because they felt they were too important, so they decided to appoint 'less important' disciples for these trivial tasks. Were these 'important disciples' more important than Jesus? How in complete contrast is this behavior to what Jesus taught and how He lived!

Jesus knew He had a very short time (3 years) for His ministry. Jesus knew how important it was for His message to get out. Yet, He made time to feed the people. Twice we read how He was concerned about the people being hungry and fed them. He did not have a  'I don't have time for this' attitude. He had time for the sick, children and showed the disciples how we should serve one another by washing their feet.

How is it possible that the followers of Jesus has a more important message than Jesus himself? These verses are not God instructing the church to appoint pastors and deacons, but again, just like in Matthew 20, shows how people have the need to be more important than others.

It is also interesting how we don't read how Stephen went and became this obedient deacon, accepting his new 'office' and doing what he was told. Instead, we read how he kept on witnessing for God, up to the point where he was stoned to death for what he said.

Again, we all have different talents, some will teach more and others will focus more on helping those in need. It is however as the Holy Spirit leads you and not what the pastor tells you.

An important point about the less important Deacons

After Stephen were 'instructed' to become a deacon (look after the widows), he simply continued to witness for God. What is very interesting is why He was stoned to death (what he was talking about) and by whom.

He was talking about something Jesus said:
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up". - John 2:19
Jesus was not just talking about His own body. He was talking about how the current religious structure (the temple) should be destroyed and how He (when He raised from the dead) will create something new.

Jesus came to destroy the old religious system where it was all about the 'Temple' and the religious hierarchy that goes with it. What is the point of destroying something if you are going to build the exact same thing?

Stephan understood this. When the Jews asked him if Jesus really said that He will destroy the temple (Acts 6:14), he answered them by explaining the history of the temple (Acts 7:1-47). He is not talking about a single building, but the religious structure/organization of the temple ('church') of the Old Testament.

He then ends with:
However, the Most High [the One infinitely exalted above humanity] does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet [Isaiah] says,‘Heaven is My throne, And the earth is the footstool for My feet; What kind of house will you build for Me?’ says the Lord, ‘Or what place is there for My rest? ‘Was it not My hand that made all these things?’ “You stiff-necked and stubborn people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. You are doing just as your fathers did - Acts 7:48-51 (AMP)
Stephen answered the Jews and said, Yes, Jesus did come to destroy your temple, your 'church'. It is no longer about temples (church buildings) or the religious hierarchies that goes with it.

THIS message, that it was the end of temples (church buildings) and obviously their precious status and various 'offices' that they held, infuriated them to the point that they killed Stephen. And who was the one who was behind this attack on Stephen? - Paul! (Acts 7:58).

As I said earlier, I think Paul was awesome with all the things he accomplished and there is a lot we can learn from him. He was however not perfect (like Jesus), he made mistakes. When you look at his religious background it make sense that the one area he struggled with was the teachings of Jesus on leadership.

A very old problem that Jesus fixed

Having spiritual leaders is what they had in the Old Testament ... and it didn't work ... something better was promised (prophesied):
But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And each man will no longer teach his neighbor and his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me [through personal experience], from the least of them to the greatest,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness, and I will no longer remember their sin - Jeremiah 31:33-34 (AMP) 

It is not just that people want to be important and want to be leaders - they also want leaders and want to follow others. 

In 1 Samuel 12 we read how Samuel said that the people of Israel done an evil thing because they wanted a king. It was not the will of God that His people should have a king, but they wanted one and eventually God did give them a king. That does not mean He stopped being their God - but I do believe that they missed out on something so much better.

I don't want to miss out on something better. I want to be obedient to Jesus. I have a Leader, His name is Jesus.


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