“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher’, for you have one Teacher, The Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23: 8-12
Jesus spells it out very clearly that no one should have a position or title that places them over and above other Christ followers. The fact is that we are all siblings and we should honor Him and one another by living and acting that way whenever we interact and share. There should never be such a system that ranks some believers above other believers. We should call no one Pastor, Teacher or Leader. It is also true that we should not treat anyone with more respect and honor than others. Even if we do not use titles or positions we should always remember that we are all sisters and brothers and that “favoritism is forbidden.”
Jesus made it very clear that only God Himself is to be followed and revered. We have been freely given The Holy Spirit to guide and lead us into ALL truth, and we do not need that ANY human to teach us the ways of God. We have all been given the anointing and all we need is HIM and no other man’s teaching to be fully equipped for any good work. (1 John 2)
HIS anointing flows through all of His followers and as peers in Christ He can speak through each one of us in turn in order to get His message out to the body and the world. No person should ever be elevated to a status over and above being our peer in Christ. Along the way He will speak through various members of His body and we can all learn the truth in love from one another as HE sees fit.
Any church system that uses a hierarchy and places some over and above others is antichrist. Because that system goes totally against what Jesus taught. According to Jesus we are all equal peers, sisters and brothers under only Him and NO other including Pastor, Elder, Apostle or Pope. If we say we are followers of Jesus then we should really BE followers of Jesus and absolutely no one else.
Love and …..
Kirk Out !
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14: 6
I can’t hardly believe it myself, but it happened again for the second time in eight days. This time I was in Seattle waiting at my gate for my flight home to board. This time an older lady sitting next to me struck up a conversation.
Wanda and her traveling companion Wilma were heading home to Harrisburg Pennsylvania after a wonderful ten day cruise to Alaska. She asked me what brought me to Washington. I told her I was visiting some dear friends and several home fellowships there. She then asked if I was a minister and I laughed saying yes, but not in the conventional or traditional sense. I said that in the fellowships I relate to that everyone is a minister. Then I told her that on my flight out there I had shared Jesus with a follower of Buddha and a follower of Islam. Wanda then replied that she would “Love” to hear more about this Jesus of which I speak.
Right then they started boarding our plane. It took several conversations with the crew and several other passengers, but I finally arranged it so I could sit next to Wanda and Wilma during our flight to Chicago.
We shared an excellent conversation on our 3.5 hour flight. I had given my bible away on last weeks flight, so I just shared whatever the Spirit put on my heart. Wilma was raised Catholic, but had not practiced her faith in over 30 years. She said she was taught a lot about Mary, the fear of hell and the ten commandments; but very little about Jesus or the love of God. Wanda had basically been unchurched her entire life and said that the few times she had attended “church” the focus had been on money and the offering. This had left a very bad taste in her mouth.
When I shared I focused on the love of God and how relationships with Jesus and one another were the most important things in life. They loved the idea of simple relational fellowship instead of traditional religion. I told them that in the true church everyone got to share and contribute and that the Spirit has gifted everyone; and not just a select few in the Body of Christ.
When we got near to Chicago they asked me to pray for them and that they wanted a relationship with the Lord Jesus I spoke of. I said we could all pray together and ask Jesus to take the lead in our lives from this day forward. By the time we were finished none of the three of us had a dry eye. Once off the plane we exchanged some powerful hugs before we needed to find the gates for our next flights.
I am just a very simple guy with a very simple message, but in the last ten days the Holy Spirit has been bursting forth from my heart like almost never before. I feel the total freedom that Christ gives all that seriously seek Him. In the last 8 days He has used simple me to make a eternal impression on four very different lives. I was simply available to have life changing conversations with others yet to know Him in His fullness. Jesus wants to set the captives free. Next time it could be you who has the key. Step up and allow Him to use you. When you do AMAZING things can happen.
Kirk Out !
P.S. It is hard to believe that my conversation with Wanda and Wilma took place almost a year ago. It seems like yesterday. Wanda has stayed in touch several times this year and she has reported that all the women in her canasta club are now following Jesus too. Plus several others from the bingo hall have found Christ via more simple conversations with Wanda and Wilma. Wanda calls me when they don’t fully understand the bible passage they are studying and I add my understanding to the text. The Holy Spirit has gotten ahold of these senior citizens and none of them seem to be looking back. I am happy to help, but they don’t really NEED me or any other “man” at all. They are more proof that simple, organic, relational, Spirit led fellowship really works. They have no need of professional Clergy or a “church” building or a set liturgy. They are simply allowing The Spirit to lead and teach them. Last time Wanda called she invited me to come along with their friends on a winter Caribbean cruise. She told me I was like family to her. I can’t go on the cruise, but being called family was confirmation of my call to help others become part of God’s family instead of pew sitting, passive members of a dying, man led institution that calls itself “Church”.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14: 6
Today I am going to share what happened during my 4.5 hour flight to Seattle yesterday. As soon as we got airborne I pulled out my copy of my friend Marc Winter’s book “Was Church God’s Idea?” and began to read. About ten minutes later the fellow sitting across the aisle from me began to ask some probing questions of me. The conversation quickly moved to what my personal beliefs were concerning Jesus Christ. At that point the person sitting immediately to my right got involved in the conversation.
In a few minutes we learned that I was a follower of Jesus sandwiched between a follower of Buddha and a follower of Islam. We each shared a little concerning what we believed about faith in God in general and then the Holy Spirit began to stir and move within me greatly. I then asked Ben and Joseph if the believed that Jesus was a prophet and they each replied yes.
Following up on that question I asked them if it was okay if we looked into exactly what Jesus had to say about Himself and the so called “Christian” faith. They both agreed and then I pulled out my bible and began to read the sayings of Jesus throughout John’s gospel.
We spent the next 3 hours reading the direct words of Jesus and discussing in depth what each of us believed in light of Christ’s words. There I was, simply conversing about the Lord with two people whose belief systems radically differed from my own, but you know what? We all found common ground in the sayings of Jesus about Himself and the Body of Christ.
Both men remarked how they had never found “Christians” to be so free, non-judgmental and open. And that they normally had “Christians” trying to shove their personal beliefs down their throats. They were accustomed to being told that they were going to hell because of their religion, but no one had actually ever taken the time to listen to their personal beliefs and journey towards God.
Then it hit me and it was totally obvious to me that others had tried to push religion and doctrine AT these men, but none had actually taken the care to share Jesus WITH them. During the final hour of our flight together I was able to share with these dear fellows the difference between relationship and religion and dead religion at that. (as if there is another kind?) I continued to solely focus on the words of Jesus Himself and invited them to prayerfully consider a potential relationship with Him beginning today. We then grasped hands and prayed together that God would continue to open our hearts, eyes and minds to faith, hope, love and truth…..Wherever it may be found.
I gave my only extra bible to Joseph and gave my copy of Marc’s book to Ben and I encouraged both of them to read and focus only on the words of Jesus. Ben then asked, “What about the other parts of the bible…The books that Paul, Peter and others had wrote?” I told them that in time they may be able to look into those writings, but that right now what was setting them free were the actual words of Christ Jesus Himself. I then shocked myself a little by saying to them that religion had been built on the words of Peter, Paul and others; but relationship, true faith and love were built on the direct words of only Jesus. Then I told them to be safe and only look into the saying of others when they felt Jesus leading them to do so.
Before we landed I gave them both my e-mail address and asked them to stay in touch. I suggested that they not be afraid to ask me anything, because God loves honest questions. Once on the ground and in the terminal we all exchanged sincere hugs. I hope to hear back from these men in the near future, but if not the Spirit will still do His work within them I fully trust. All in all this was just another day in the life of Captain Kirk.
Kirk Out !
P.s. It is hard to believe that what happened written above took place one year ago. It really does seem like it just happened recently. I felt HIS leading to post this here again today and to also give you all an update. Ben dove head first into the things of Christ and still serves Him to this day. I hear fron Ben often and in the last year he has brought Jesus to several close relatives, a few friends and his wife to be. They gather each Saturday to break bread and seek a deeper walk with Christ and each other. I have not heard from Joseph in over six months, but the last time we spoke he was still actively seeking and serving Jesus. He has participated in several gatherings with Ben since then and Ben says he seems to be growing in the Lord. I will never forget that flight or these men. It is amazing what God can do with simple conversations and sincere hearts. Where religion fails relationship can flourish. I have found this to be true time and time again. My sole desire and goal in life is authentic fellowship in and with Christ; and the relationships birthed by such fellowship. In fact I am writting this post from SW New York state where I am totally enjoying a weekend of awesome fellowship. I hope these simple words encourage everyone who reads them. I am so grateful for The Body Of Christ in my life.
“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent – not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2: 5-11
Satan loves to see divisions in the body of Christ. If he can divide and separate us from each other he knows he has a better chance of winning others over to his side of the battle. Unity of The Spirit attracts people to the one true faith. While ugly divisions tend to drive people away. The Spirit and the flesh are at war with each other. With The Spirit comes acceptance and love. The flesh thrives on controversy and can be very divisive. A house divided cannot stand. Satan’s schemes and devices are intended to drive wedges between members of Christ’s body and between us all and God.
The enemy wants us to expel from the church those who sin. Satan would have us devour one another in the name of Christ. This is not the way of Jesus our Lord. Jesus wants us to forgive, comfort and love those among us who stumble and fall. Even those who have sinned greatly against us. God is all about restoration and not separation and division. Spiritual elitism that puts people in different classes within the body due to certain giftings or even sins is dead wrong. There is no class system in the true body of Christ.
As I have said many times God hates division. You have heard me speak out against the Clergy/Laity division, calling it the worst division in the church. However, it may just have an equal. That equal being the division between good sinners and bad sinners. We all sin, but many times we view certain sins as being worse than others. In making this judgement we further divide the body of Christ. Because only God can determine the difference between a sheep and a goat. Besides there is no such thing as a good sin in the first place.
Friends, it is far past time that we forgive, comfort and reaffirm our love for people who have sinned against us. The true test of our faith is whether or not we will be obedient to love and forgive those who have done us wrong. This is not an easy task. It took me years to be able to forgive my father for raping and sexually abusing me as a child. However, when I finally did I found the most healing and peace that I had ever known. Forgiving others does not give them a free pass from God’s judgement. What it does is set us free in this life, so that we can live and love beyond our scars and wounds. If we want healing and restoration in this life, it bests serves us to offer the same to those around us who need it now. If we say we are followers of Jesus then we better be willing to say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”, just like He did.
Kirk Out !
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9: 19-22
When we gathered for free and open home fellowship today a dear sister suggested that we look into these verses together. We then spent over an hour discussing this passage and what we collectively saw in it. The discussion was lively, very deep and even included some gems of wisdom from a 14 year old. As we wrestled with Paul’s words together it became abundantly clear to us that it is very important that we remain flexible in the hands of God. That God may want us to go to various extremes in order to reach others with the message of grace, truth and love.
We agreed that our approach to conveying His message may vary greatly from person to person and that a cookie cutter application of the Gospel will rarely, if ever, work. Our study also reaffirmed that winning others to Christ is a vitally important aspect of being an everyday Christ follower and that becoming all things to all men is something Jesus still wants us to do even in this day and age. Everyone in the room freely admitted that they fell short of the ideal in this area, but we also all agreed that we would like to do better in the future. Becoming weak or vulnerable for the sake of others takes some serious self denial and that is never easy, but neither is any calling from God.
Most of all we agreed that sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit in each and every situation was key to reaching those yet to fully know Jesus. All the bible verses in the world pale in comparison to a simple cup of cold water given in His name. Knowing the bible means nothing if you cannot reach out and literally touch someone with the truth in love. Many times a simple hug or listening ear will speak volumes more than a clever bible quote. Someone also pointed out that in every situation who God calls, He also equips. Being an effective Christ follower is never confined by natural ability. In fact it is always based on availability to His call rather than our human abilities and skills.
All in all it was a wonderful time in Christ together and to top it all off we feasted on roasted rosemary pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes, baked beans with mega bacon, deviled eggs, and an assorted fruit and cheese plate. I feel sorry for those who only take communion with a tiny cracker and a thimble of juice, but I feel more sorry for those who only get to sit in rows and passively listen to a sermon/monologue instead of being able to participate in a Spirit led discussion whenever they gather.
Kirk Out !
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”‘ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.” Matthew 11: 16-19
Does anyone else find it odd that Jesus loved and was a friend of tax collectors and sinners, but the vast majority of traditional/institutional “church” members avoid folks like that like the plague? Many seem to preach and follow the doctrine of separation. Which calls for “saints” to totally avoid sinners at just about all cost. Jesus certainly did not live that way and neither should we.
Jesus lived, loved, and walked among every type of person in the communities He served, lived in and visited. Not even the lepers were unclean to Him. In fact the people He had the most difficulties with were the Pharisees who valued Law and separation over and above relationship. Seems to me that there are a great number of modern day Pharisees in the “Church” today. They are people who lift doctrine, Law and “right” teaching over relationship, grace, mercy and love.
In true community everyone is accepted and loved, even sinners. Which raises this huge question…. are there any sinners in your life? Or is your circle of community drawn so small and tight that it only includes members of your “church”? Seems to me that Jesus was saying that we all need to play, dance, sing, eat, drink and mourn together with people from all walks of life. If your “Christian” life is so narrow that no “sinner” can be a part of it at any time… I think you miss the true message of Jesus and have settled for something far less than Christ.
Of course this whole conversation begs the question of… who is not a sinner in the first place? Jesus emptied Himself, left heaven and His Father to come to earth as a mortal child and then as a mortal man loved us so much that He freely gave His life for all of us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5: 8) Jesus is the friend of sinners and if you can fully grasp that in your heart and mind, you would have no problem whatsoever welcoming sinners into your life too. We are all called to love and serve whoever comes into our lives. To actually lay down our lives for our friends, and if your definition of “friend” is too narrow… I am certain that Jesus weeps.
Kirk Out !