Rule or Control?
The kingdom of God needs order, guidance, and harmony. How is this achieved?
Rev. Mark O’ Reilly
Website: At His Command Ministry
What is a ruler?
Matt 23:8 But you, do not be called Rabbi, for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
(9) And do not call anyone on earth your father, for One is your Father, He who is in the heavens.
(10) Neither be called instructors, because One is your Instructor, the Christ.
Matthew 23 says that we should not have any leaders. But in the Epistles we are told that there are leaders in the church (Heb. 13:17, 24).
The Bible, however, is not contradictory.
We need to see that what is in the mind of the Lord is utterly different from what is in our natural mentality.
In the mind of the Lord the elders or the leaders should not control others. In the church there should not be any control.
But this does not mean that there is no governing, no ruling.
To rule is one thing, and to control is another.
All the leaders in the churches must be clear about this. In the Lord’s churches we need ruling, but not controlling.
To control others means to make decisions for them and to tell them what to do or not to do. It is to put people under your direction.
No one should exercise control, because we all are under the one Lord and have the one Spirit living in us and leading us.
However, there is a need for ruling.
If in a Church body the saints are told what to do, that is control. But there must be some ruling in the Church.
Suppose, for example, someone worships an idol and claims the freedom to do so. This must be ruled out.
We even need some ruling in deciding the times of the meetings. Some may insist on meeting at 4:30 a.m., while others may want to meet at an equally inconvenient time in the afternoon.
Thus, the elders need to go to the Lord in prayer, fellowship with the saints, and use their spiritual nose to discern the feeling of the saints so that they can determine what time is best for the meetings.
Then the elders should make a decision. This is not control; it is ruling.
What do the rulers do?
Matt 23:10 Neither be called instructors, because One is your Instructor, the Christ.
(11) And the greatest among you shall be your servant.
20:28 Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
The elders are not kings; they are slaves.
As one in the Lord’s Service, I am a slave as well. Others may enjoy their freedom, but I have no freedom because I have been bought to serve as slave.
In the world, to have a position means to have glory.
But in the church, to have a position means to be in “slavery.”
In Catholicism there is a hierarchy of priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and the pope, all of whom are above the laity. This is vainglory. In the church there is no such vainglory; instead, there is slavery.
The leading ones being slaves corresponds to the Lord’s word in 20:25 through 27:
“Jesus called them to Him and said, You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and the great exercise authority over them.
It is not so among you; but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you shall be your slave.”
How contrary this is to the natural, self- seeking mind!
The eldership is a form of slavery.
Every leader must be a slave.
Therefore, there should be no hierarchy among us.
Rather, we all are brothers on the same level.
There is only one king for us on earth, as ordained
by the Father King in heaven, and his name is Jesus
We are all his servants!