I want to start this post by saying, right up front, I say these words with fear and trembling. Who am I? I don’t have the right to say this. But it burns in my heart, and I must.
Not long ago, my family and I were in a restaurant where we received excellent service. A mistake was made on our order and the manager immediately corrected it with his apologies. I made the comment to my son that, good or bad, service starts with management. There’s no such thing as an employee problem, it’s always a management problem.
I think the same can be said with the church today. I look around and see so much worldliness, so much narcissism and selfishness, so much “me-ology” instead of theology. Yet I don’t think the problem begins with the body. I believe we have a leadership problem.
I’m being challenged by the words of Paul in Colossians 1:24 where he says,
“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.”
I’m wondering how many of our leaders today are willing to “fill up their flesh” with the sufferings of Christ for the sake of the body? I’m wondering how many leaders today are willing to lay down everything and literally become servants to the body? To suffer and travail for the good of the church of Jesus Christ.
I see a lot of leaders for whom “ministry” has become a career. I see a ministry class that has become separate from the body, in many cases above the body. I don’t see a lot of leaders who are willing to suffer on behalf of the body. I don’t see a lot of leaders who are willing, like John the Baptist, to live in the wilderness with no comforts of home in order to challenge the people of God to repentance and obedience.
Jesus warned His followers of the “leaven of the Pharisees” and how that leaven can leaven a whole lump of dough. He warned His followers about the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who held the rank and file to a standard they themselves did not keep. He warned them about a ruling class that would exert power over God’s people for their own personal gain.
And He said that leaven would leaven the whole lump. If there is a problem with worldliness in the church, follow it back to the leadership. If there is a problem with hypocrisy in the church, follow it back to the leadership. If the church has failed in its job of taking care of the orphans and widows, follow it back to the leadership.
I’m begging our church leadership. Please consider whose kingdom you are building, Christ’s or yours. Please consider whose money you are spending. Please consider how we could have come to this: multi-million dollar buildings while so many suffer, meaningless programs meant to suck up to donors while the world is careening out of control, and a form of Godliness, but no power of the Holy Spirit.
Please know my heart. I know there are a lot of wonderful men and women who are in leadership in the body of Christ. But the church is sick, the temple of the Holy Spirit – the people of God – lies in ruins. And the rebuilding of that temple begins with repentance at the highest levels. It begins with leaders who are willing to step down from the pedestal and suffer and travail for the body of Christ. It begins with leaders who are willing to fill themselves up with the sufferings of Christ, that His body might be nourished and replenished.
Until the head finds its healing, the whole body will remain in its sickness.