Saturday, January 17, 2009

Idolizing godly men? Biblically

It's always amusing to note that often the comments people make concerning doctrine and practice, often have much more to do with annoyance and avoidance rather then with correcting truth.

This also happens when you use the quotes of men and people are frustrated with their own walk or lack of conformity to scripture and reply something like 'well they are just men, we should only be looking at Jesus'. That's a little odd since, Jesus would be the higher standard of course. Or perhaps you have heard people say like i have often, 'i like the bible, because it shows the flaws of men like David, he committed adultery and murder (probably the top reason people reference David) and this really encourages me'. I hope you know that this is absolutely ridiculous, if you look at the lives of old and new testament saints to find comfort in their sins. NO, we should find comfort ONLY in God's mercy and their repentance!

Why do we have the stories? One of the main reasons and purposes in watching the rise and fall of others is: 1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. (speaking of Israel in the wilderness)

In other words we should be more careful and seek to learn from the faults of others, i have found two types of people in life: those who learn the hard way (by trial and error) and those who learn from the mistakes and successes of others!

So then how are we to view men of God? Are we to take some notice of them, but basically isolate ourselves with a sole focus on OUR 'PERSONAL' relationship with Jesus? It of course is true that men are prone to idolize and to follow others and perhaps we want to avoid the example of many cults, but then how are we to look at men?

I would like to give you some scriptures that I have chewed upon while thinking about this lately.

Eph 5: 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps

OK we'll pause here, it must be noted that our example is Christ, that the one we follow is Christ! We are to look to no other for guidance, for truth, we are to be HIS disciples.

Since this is true and exclusively TRUE, then what? We must then ask how? In other words we must recognize that God has chosen to work through means, He uses ways often confusing to us which INCLUDE us?! So in what way are we to follow the Lord, what is the example of scripture, what does the scriptures say? (i believe much clarity will come to the majority of questions of so-called 'hard' theology if we simply come to grips with the reality that God uses means).

First let's consider one GREAT aspect of a pastor, his primary qualification to the ministry:

I Peter 5:1-3 ..2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight.......3.......but being examples to the flock

The first function of God-ordained shepherds is to lead by example (one may have much ability, but fail to qualify to lead because they cannot do so by example). Since this is the call of the men, Jesus has given the church, then it must also stand to reason that those under them must follow them.

Philippians 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

Wait a minute!? I thought the 'humble' thing was to tell people how sinful you are and to NOT follow you? This seems to be the norm right? Yet when you first ever read these words did you think 'isn't this pride?', yet once again we must redefine according to scripture what humility is and isn't. If you are a shepherd don't FEAR to say this when needed, there are times you will have to say 'watch me'. It's definitely PRIDE when you are saying that, but you try to make it sound like something else.
1 Thess 2:10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe;
Doesn't sound like 'positional holiness to me', yet i would also like to take this time to remind you that we must not be quick to write someone off if they use the same type of speech.

Paul not only says that he is an example, and perhaps you might reply 'yeah well duh, he's one of those SUPER-APOSTLES' sorry that's NOT the RIGHT answer. He's just a redeemed man, he was an obsessed man, one passion, one pursuit, and that was Christ! Yet Paul doesn't attempt to say, follow me because of who I am, but he says 'and NOTE those who walk...' in other words. Mark those, take notice of those, watch those who ALSO live in such a godly pattern and FOLLOW them as well. Does that mean i hop around following whoever i bump into and go and do what they do? NO, it means that we are to NOTE the 'PATTERN', this pattern that is ultimately CHRIST, the PATTERN of Christ in OTHERS. We are to look for living examples, we are to read the lives of men who stand in stark contrast to this world and much of 'professing' Christianity!

Consider the reaction of this PATTERN being followed correctly:

1 Thess 1:4-7 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia

We lived before you, you watched us, you did likewise, and others are now watching you. This is what body life should be about, all striving to be imitators of Christ, by imitating Christ in others!

The balance? Where and how must we draw the line? How are we to exactly follow godly men, say eve a Jonathan Edwards?
1 Corinthians 1:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
To Christ and NO further, let us recognize what of Christ is in a man and then leave the rest! A Paul Washer, a Piper, A Bunyan whatever, we follow them to the extent they follow Christ. We are not to follow our most loving pastors, spouses, parents in any other way- when it comes to them or Christ we part ways and thank them for the direction thus far.


Ryan Kasza

I agree and join in the passion of this statement in the sense that men put way too much faith in other men. I think it is easy for mankind in general to make an idol out of alsmost anything, including other men. Knowing this to be true, though, I would say that it is beneficial to encourage one another in what we can see in their individual lives and walks specifically. Paul was a great encourager, as I also believe Christ was. Sometimes it is very easy to react to what it is we see around us- and especially in matters of the church. I would just encourage you (and I may be inferring this from the blog in error) to not go so far as to abstain from encouraging others in what good we can actually see other believers doing. it is not idolitry to praise each other for howwe see one another in following Christ. Also, we all need encouragement from time to time in our walks, even as we do good. This encopuragm,ent is not meant for idolitry, as some practice, but for the building up of the body of Christ in general, and specifically.

Julius Mickel

yeah you might have read it too quickly. I hope it was as clear as i thought, I really wanted to stress soemthing against the over reaction of NOT following Christ in men. God uses the godly lives of people around us, to challenge us- likewise every believer should encourage one another in how we live. To go even further following the example of Paul, we should be living such lives that we can repeat the words of Paul to others 'follow me'. I remember D.A. Carson telling of a friend in college that brought a sceptic to the most knowledgable Christian he knew. This sceptic threw out all these questions, and pretty much ended with something along the lines of 'i don't see what all the difference is between the Christian and me, i don't think there is any' to this the young believer said 'THEN, watch ME, move in my dorm and watch me for a month and tell me there's no difference' (that's what i'm talking about). The ONLY thing we need BEWARE is following someone into ERROR because we like them or have been taught by them. Bless you brother!

Ryan Kasza

Thanks, no i don't think you were overstating it...just wanted a clarification. understood. Thanks.

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